IT’S amazing that right after Christmas Day, the second day of the Christmas Octave (December 26), we celebrate the memorial of St. Stephen who bears the title of being the protomartyr or the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death for giving a vivid witness of the glory of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God in heaven. (cfr. Acts 6,55) The people then could not stand what he was telling them.

Is this meant to be a wet blanket to all that joyous celebration of the birth of Christ? I don’t believe so. If at all, it is meant to give us a most realistic understanding of the spirit of Christmas, the birth of our Redeemer who being God became man to bear and conquer all our sins through his very passion, death and resurrection. To bear witness to this truth of our faith in the way St. Stephen did, actually gives full meaning to Christmas.

Thus, in the gospel of the day (cfr. Mt 10,17-22) we are told to expect all sorts of challenges and trials, even at the hands of the most unlikely persons such as our own parents and friends. But we should never worry, since God will always be with us, and as the gospel declared, “you will be hated by all for the sake of my name, but whoever will have persevered, even to the end, the same shall be saved.” (v.22)

We really have no reason to fear, nor to wallow in worries, anxieties and sadness. Let’s remember that these unfortunate states are fertile ground for the enemies of our soul, especially the devil, to take advantage of us.

About the only reason to fear, worry and be sad is when we lose our faith, when we lose touch with God. We have to pray and pray so that our doubts and fears would not undermine our faith.

What also helps is to develop a sporting attitude in life, because, to be realistic about it, we will always have frustrations, disappointments, mistakes, failures, sins and defeats in our life. But we just have to learn how to move on, just like a good sportsman.

We should always be cheerful in life, and strive to show it even externally with smiles and happy, warm and encouraging dispositions. Even in our grief and mourning, we should manage to learn how to be serene, knowing that suffering and death have already been redeemed by Christ and are now endowed with redemptive power.

Let’s not waste time and energy by falling into the grips of fears, worries and sadness. When we notice that we are having some languid moments, it can be a sign that our faith is not working, and that we are succumbing to the laws of the flesh and the world, if not, to the tricks of the devil.

We have to extricate ourselves as quickly as possible from that predicament. The ideal to have is to be always cheerful and eager to do things, no matter what the cost involved.

We should be doing a lot of good, constructive work, rather than stuck in the mode of ruing and brooding, sinking in self-pity, etc. We should never forget that God is always around.

It might be a good idea to rally the power of our faith that tells us that God takes care of everything. There is really nothing to worry even if we are made to suffer, since that suffering, if united to that of Christ, becomes something purifying and redemptive not only to oneself but also to everybody else.