Sunday, December 26, 2010

Memorial of St Stephen, Protomartyr

We have already remarked that the words: Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers: may have reference to the Lord as the one whom the Jews were afterward to put to death. In a secondary sense it may likewise be applied to his disciples, of whom he speaketh when he saith: Behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes. Here observe that, as the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians, there are diversities of gifts amongst Christ's followers. Some are prophets of that which is to come; some are wise men who know the due season for rebuke, and exhortation; some are scribes learned in the Law. And of these Stephen was stoned, Paul was slain with the sword, Peter was crucified, and the disciples of whom mention is made in the Acts of the Apostles were scourged.

It is a subject of dispute amongst commentators as to what is meant by Zacharias the son of Barachias, for we read of several persons of this name. But in this passage, as if to prevent any mistake, is added: Whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. I have read various opinions in various places upon this question, and I will give you each. First, some hold that this Zacharias was the eleventh of the twelve Minor Prophets, which same is called the son of Barachias. But the Bible nowhere telleth us that this Prophet was slain between the temple and the altar; and it is hardly possible in his day that even the ruins of the temple were in existence. Secondly, others maintain that this Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist. Such an interpretation is derived from certain vain imaginations of the apocryphal Gospels, wherein it is asserted that he was martyred for preaching the Saviour's coming.

A third school will have it that this Zacharias, the son of Barachias, was that Zacharias of whom we read in the second Book of Chronicles, that he was slain by Joash, King of Judah, in the court of the house of the Lord, which same might be understood as between the temple and the altar. However, that Zacharias was not the son of Barachias, but of Jehoiada the priest, whence it is written: Joash the King remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. The question therefore ariseth, if this opinion be true, why the manner of death agreeth with this explanation but the name doth not, since Zacharias is called the son of Jehoiada rather than of Barachias. The Hebrew word Barachias signifieth Blessed-of-the-Lord, and this might be an honourific title for Jehoiada, used to imply his righteousness, inasmuch as our Lord was making reference to the shedding of righteous blood. Further, we might find that in the Gospel used by the Nazarenes the name of Jehoiada is used instead of Barachias."

-- From a homily by St Jerome


ocd sister said...

Since today's Sunday, we don't observe St Stephen's memorial this year. If you observe the new calendar (not the traditional one), you will very likely hear a homily about the Feast of the Holy Family at Mass, since this feast is moved to the first Sunday after Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all readers and followers!

Anonymous said...

Blessed Christmas to you!! I miss you and hope to ease back into blogging after my long absence. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I think of you when I look upon the beautiful relics you sent me (and you pic). God Bless You!