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A Sunflower Life

Background Music: Panalangin by Mark Anthony Cuevas
    Voiced by: Shirly Benedictos

December 26, Tuesday, Feast of St. Stephen (Dec 26)
Daily Readings: First reading: Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-60; Gospel: Matthew 10: 17-22

In Greek, the name ‘Stephen’ (stephanos) means ‘wreath of the crown’ and, by extension, 'reward, honor, renown, and fame.’ Let us reflect on the life of St. Stephen on two accounts:

Life After Death. Yesterday we celebrated a birth; today we celebrate a death. It is to be remembered that both are feasts—that is, occasions to rejoice. While it is true that we can celebrate a birth, we need to raise the question of whether we can celebrate a death. Is that too horrible a murder? In our customary understanding, birth and death stand at opposite poles.

One is the beginning and the other is an end; one brings a person to the world and the other takes the person out of the world; one gives a chance to enjoy the pleasures of the world and the other deprives a person of everything in the world.

Though both birth and death stand as opposites in our human perspective, it is not so in our faith perspective. Our Christian faith informs us that death is but another birth. It is a birth that opens up greater possibilities. Though death puts an end to the material world, it opens up the heavenly world.

This is the precise reason why the Church invites us to celebrate the death of St. Stephen as much as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Life after death is in no way less real than life before death.

Life Before Death. What we are today will determine what we will be after death. Luke very beautifully presents that Stephen closely mirrored Jesus. Stephen’s life had many aspects that we find in Jesus. Like Jesus, he spoke with so much wisdom that his opponents could not resist (6: 10); he was falsely accused (6: 11); false witnesses were set up against him (6: 13, 14); his face was shining (6: 15); he gave a new light to the whole of the Old Testament through his preaching (Acts 7: 1–50). Stephen’s life can be compared to a sunflower. As a sunflower closely follows the movement of the sun, he intimately follows the life of Jesus.

Luke’s portrayal that Stephen’s death closely resembled that of Jesus indicates that Stephen’s life too was closely resembling that of Jesus. Though we don’t have any direct Biblical reference about the life of St. Stephen, the very fact that he was selected as one of the deacons and the deacons were “men of good standing, full of the Spirit, and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3) shows that his life closely mirrored that of Jesus. May our life today be qualitative so that the life we will have after death will be qualitative too.


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.