Yesterday was the 2nd day of Christmas, the feast of St. Stephen. I happened to be listening to Mass on the radio on my way to work. The priest made a point to contrast how we had celebrated Christmas (new life) & the very next day, we were commemorating the death of the first martyr. He said that "Christ was born to die" & that "martyrdom was the highest prize" in Christianity.
In that moment, I realized Christ had called me to die on the very day He gave me new life, but I've been putting it off. Dying a natural death is one thing. But becoming a spiritual martyr, dying "to self" with full knowledge & consent of will is another. In a way, dying in this manner requires a severing of perceived reality, much like the experience Stephen had as the crowd was gearing up to stone him. He looked up, saw the heavens opened & there was Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. I think it was this reality which enabled him to die so valiantly.
And what is my reality?! When I look up, I see only darkness & begin plotting my survival. But the life I've been given is not my own to "save"... I was not made for my own gain or pleasure. Christ has asked me to "lose my life", to give up my rights for His sake. He's asked me to die to my self & what I want in order that He may be glorified. It strikes me as a frightening thought, even though I've been aware of it for years. Stephen's reality was Christ. What's mine?
"It is much less difficult to conquer others than to conquer oneself." Imitation of Mary