Living Witnesses

The joy of Christmas, the warmth of Bethlehem’s cave and the angelic words of hope: Peace on earth and good will towards men changes quite quickly in the church’s calendar. This move from the joy of the Nativity to the reality of man’s selfishness and self-centeredness we note already on the third day of Christmas, as we commemorate the Holy Archdeacon Stephen the First Martyr, singing at the Kontakion: “Yesterday the Master arrived in the flesh, today the servant departs from the flesh. Yesterday He who reigns was born. Today the servant dies for Him by stoning, the Protomartyr, the divine Stephen.” Today, on the fifth day of Christmas, we commemorate the 14,000 Holy Innocents slain by Herod (see icon). Yesterday, on the commemoration of the 20,000 Holy Martyrs of Nicodemia, His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilohije, said in his homily:

“Countless martyrs have witnessed Christ throughout the centuries, and first among them have been children, who were slain in His name and who remain to this day and to the end the world and age His living witnesses.”

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