To celebrate the feast day of St. Stephen, the first martyr, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with some 30,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square. He stressed the importance of focusing on the true meaning of Christmas rather than consumerism.
In short, the liturgy really seems to want us to move away from the world of lights, luncheons, and gifts in which we might be somewhat indulging these days. Why? Because Christmas is not a fairy tale of the birth of a king, but the coming of the Savior.
The Pope also highlighted the important figures in the octave of Christmas, including St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents—both martyrs and witnesses of the faith. He used their examples as a reminder of those suffering persecution for their faith today.
And even in our days, martyrs are numerous—more than in the early days. Today, we pray for these martyred, persecuted brothers and sisters who bear witness to Christ. But we do well to ask ourselves: do I witness to Christ?
Pope Francis pointed out St. Stephen's two dimensional witness: his loving actions and spreading Jesus' Word. The Pope also encouraged pilgrims to use this example and the Christmas season to be open to others.