Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch
Philippians 3:17-4:1, Gospel : John 12:24-26Today is the Feast of Ignatius of Antioch, one of the most beloved bishops of the apostolic era. Ignatius was also known by the name “Theophorus” which means God Carrier. He was a disciple of the apostle John and was ordained the 3rd Bishop of Antioch, Syria, by St’s Peter and St. Paul.
Ignatius is remembered for his journey to Rome, where he was martyred by lions in the coliseum in Rome 1900 years ago. Ignatius wrote seven letters on his journey to Rome
The Transmission of the Faith of the Apostles
I wanted to reflect on the role and nature of the Church, because Ignatius is one of those figures in early Church history that God used to help the Church come to a deeper understanding of herself, her mission and her connectedness to Christ. If you ever have the opportunity to discuss the faith with those who are Mormon in faith, which claims that there was a great apostasy after the Apostles died out, Ignatius is the counter-argument par-excellence. By studying his letters, and knowing his relationship to the apostles, and to the Scriptures, you see the continuity of the Catholic faith being handed on from generation to generation.
A Holistic view of the Church
Ask many Catholics today, what is the Church and you will get a variety of answers – It is the Pope and the Bishops in communion with the Pope, It is the People, or worse – It is an institution with a set of rules and regulations that we need to follow, or I don’t need a Church I can come to know God alone.
At the heart of St. Ignatius’ vision of the Church is the idea that it is through the relationships between the members of the Church that God’s plan for salvation is worked out. This is why communion amongst the members is so important. Whenever we find ourselves having an impoverished view of the Church we end up minimizing one of these relationships, and reducing the avenues of grace that God has chosen to work through.
Ignatius’ view of the Church called for obedience to the relationship, a willingness to continue to walk with one another in charity so that we are transformed in our relationships to be as St. Paul calls us to – imitators of him, as he imitates Christ.
My servant will follow me – on “the Way” of the Cross.
The Gospel today calls us to serve Christ, by following him on the way of the Cross. Walking the way of the cross means that we are called to live a life of sacrificial love; to die to sin. The question that we are confronted with today is; what sin, what relationship, what person must I die to, in a sacrifice of love so that God’s glory can shine through my weakness. Let us be inspired St. Ignatius’ own witness to the faith inspires us to pursue the way of sacrificial love.