Good King Wencelaos
A SAINT WHO WARMED THE WORLD
Sister Elizabeth V Roach, MM
An ancient Christmas hymn begins, “On the Feast of Stephen, Good King Wenceslaos,. . .” Saint Stephen’s Feast Day is the day after Christmas.
Stephen was a deacon, a church person who served the poor in the time of the first Christians.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Apostles, closest followers of Jesus, were busy all the time telling everyone about Jesus. They told everyone how Jesus loved everyone and gave his life so each one of us could be happy forever.
The Apostles and their friends, also, shared their food with the poor, They went about healing people, too. Soon, they needed someone to help them. St Peter, the chief of the Apostles, had known Jesus. Jesus had told him and the other Apostles to tell people how God loved them.
Peter needed help because Jesus always helped people. Peter said, “We can preach, but we need help. We have to serve the poor.”
Peter appointed some men to help serve the poor like Jesus did. He called them “Deacons.”
Stephen was one of these men. He gave out food to the needy. He helped the sick. Some people did not like it that the Apostles and their friends were helping people. They aaid, “Just stop that!”
Stephen said, “But I want to follow Jesus.” Stephen went right on serving the poor.
The followers of Jesus claimed He was the Christ. People began calling them, the “Christians.”
One day when Stephen went out to serve the poor, these people said, “Now is the time to stop him.”
They took hold of Stephen, took him outside of the village and threw stones at him until he was so bruised that he died.
Stephen was the first Christian to die as a witness to Jesus teaching. He is called the proto-martyr. Martyr means witness; proto means first.
When someone follows Jesus with all his heart, we call that person a saint. Sometimes the Church picks some of these men and women, or boys or girls to be official Saints of the Church. The Church gives us a special day to remember them.
Hundreds of years after Saint Stephen, a good King, Wencelaus, was a very kind and generous nobleman in Bohemia. He, too, helped poor people. People liked to be around him. He was so good and kind that people felt happy just to see Good King Wenceslaus. They came to believe that just being near him was a blessing.
The carol tells how Wenceslaus went out to serve the poor on the day after Christmas, St. Stephen’s Feast Day. One of his servants wanted to be with him. Snow fell and the servant feltt very cold as he trudged along.
He wanted to follow Wenceslaus, so he stepped into the footprints of Wenceslas. Suddenly, he didn’t feel cold anymore. Where Wenceslas walked his love for Jesus and the poor made the world a lovely warm place.
If you learn the Christmas Carol. “Good King Wenceslas,” you will learn that Wenceslas, the King of Bohemia was a lot like Saint Stephen. They each followed Jesus by serving the poor.
A poor person is ANYONE who needs help. They may be rich or poor, hungry, or cold, or lonely, or sad. They may be someone in your own home, -- a little brother who has no one to play with, a little sister who is sick today. Do you have a neighbor who needs help carrying the groceries into the house, or a grandmother who likes a visit from you.
Let’s look for ways to help others like Stephen and Wenceslaus? We can tell Jesus about it when we look into the Nativity Scene under the Christmas Tree! I hope you will also learn to sing, “Good King Wenceslaus.”
© Copyright Nov 2020