‘WHAT’S NEXT?’ (Mt 10:17-22): 26 December 2007 (St. Stephen, Wednesday)
It’s a cool, rainy morning the day after Christmas Day here in Manila. And after all the Christmas shopping, Mass-going, and celebrating, the question that comes to mind today, of course, is: “What’s next?” The gospel reading isn’t exactly going to cheer you up. Our Lord warns his disciples of persecutions and harassments although he assures us of the help of the Holy Spirit.
It’s appropriate reminder, of course, since today we also remember St. Stephen, the very first Christian martyr, stoned to death because of the faith. Just a day after Christmas–and well, we’re back to reality. But as evident even in the Christmas story, joy and tears, life and death are constant companions in this world of ours.
It reminds me of a story I heard some years ago. It’s about a man and his little boy walking down a neighborhood in the United States one starry evening. As they walked, the boy noticed that almost every house they passed had stars hanging outside it. Some of the stars were colored white and others purple. The boy tugged at the sleeve of his father, and pointing at the houses they passed, he asked his father what the stars meant. The father explained to him that the stars hanging outside each house represented the men living in that house who had been sent to the Vietnam War. The white stars signified those who survived and managed to come back alive, while the purple ones stood for those who had fallen in the war.
“For example, you see that house with the two purple stars over there?” asked the father pointing to a house to their left, “That means the family lost two of their sons in Vietnam.”
When father and son had walked past the last house in the neighborhood, the little boy glanced up at the sky and caught sight of a star that outshone the others. Pointing to that star, he asked his father about its meaning, and his father said, “That star is like the star of Christmas. It stands for God’s Son whom He sent to us on Christmas.”
Still curious, the boy pointed to the rest of the stars in the sky: “And what about all those other stars in the sky?” And his father said, “Those countless stars stand for all the countless times that God continues to give His Son to us today.”
The day after Christmas it’s good for us to be reminded of this truth: that in Christ, God “has spoken into the world his last, his deepest, his most beautiful word in the incarnate Word, a word that can no longer be revoked.” However, the Word gives of Himself not just on Christmas Day, but continually, each day of our lives. Now that Christmas Day is gone, we’re all invited to find out how the Lord is being given to us as gift each day of our lives. We’re called to unwrap the gift of our Lord each day of our lives. And that’s what’s next after Christmas.