BTTT for St. Ignatius of Antioch's feast day, 10-17-04
|Reading||From a letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr|
|Have faith in Christ, and love|
|Try to gather together more frequently to give thanks to God and to praise him. For when you come together frequently, Satans powers are undermined, and the destruction he threatens is done away with in the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end.
None of this will escape you if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end. When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them. No one professing faith sins; no one possessing love hates. A tree is known by its fruit. So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do. For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.
It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. Teaching is good if the teacher also acts. Now there was one teacher who spoke, and it was made, and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are close to him. Let us then do everything in the knowledge that he is dwelling within us so that we may be his temples and he may be God within us. He is, and will reveal himself, in our sight, according to the love we bear him in holiness.
Make no mistake, my brothers: those who corrupt families will not inherit the kingdom of God. If those who do these things in accordance with the flesh have died, how much worse will it be if one corrupts through evil doctrine the faith of God for which Jesus was crucified. Such a person, because he is defiled, will depart into the unquenchable fire, as will any one who listens to him.
For the Lord received anointing on his head in order that he might breathe incorruptibility on the Church. Do not be anointed with the evil odour of the teachings of the prince of this world, do not let him lead you captive away from the life that is set before you. But why is it that we are not all wise when we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we perish in our stupidity, not knowing the gift the Lord has truly sent us?
My spirit is given over to the humble service of the cross which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but to us salvation and eternal life.
Born in Syria, Ignatius converted to Christianity and eventually became bishop of Antioch. In the year 107, Emperor Trajan visited Antioch and forced the Christians there to choose between death and apostasy. Ignatius would not deny Christ and thus was condemned to be put to death in Rome.
Ignatius is well known for the seven letters he wrote on the long journey from Antioch to Rome. Five of these letters are to Churches in Asia Minor; they urge the Christians there to remain faithful to God and to obey their superiors. He warns them against heretical doctrines, providing them with the solid truths of the Christian faith.
The sixth letter was to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who was later martyred for the faith. The final letter begs the Christians in Rome not to try to stop his martyrdom. "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ."
Ignatius bravely met the lions in the Circus Maximus.
Ignatius's great concern was for the unity and order of the Church. Even greater was his willingness to suffer martyrdom rather than deny his Lord Jesus Christ. Not to his own suffering did Ignatius draw attention, but to the love of God which strengthened him. He knew the price of commitment and would not deny Christ, even to save his own life.
"I greet you from Smyrna together with the Churches of God present here with me. They comfort me in every way, both in body and in soul. My chains, which I carry about on me for Jesus Christ, begging that I may happily make my way to God, exhort you: persevere in your concord and in your community prayers" (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Church at Tralles).