St. Stephen was the first disciple of Jesus to be martyred, and today we observe his feast. It may seem strange that we embrace the martyrdom of St. Stephen and pray with today’s Gospel after Christmas, but we must remember why we have Christmas to begin with.

After we remove Christmas trees and sparkling lights what we have is the Messiah born during a time of rough living for the absolute poor and constant shunning of the marginalized. It is because Jesus was born that he died for us, and why St. Stephen gave his life so freely showing that Christ is our Savior.

Our world today continues to be riddled with conflict and hardships, not unlike the time of Jesus’ birth. Now that our preparations have led us towards a joyous new life in and with Christ, may we intentionally live out his mission by standing next to the very same people  he came for and stood with.

—Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.