Sunday, October 16, 2011

What Matters to God

October 17, 2011

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

But it was not for him alone that it was written that it was credited to him; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification. Romans 4:23-25

But God said to him, "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?" Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God." Luke 12:20-21


I am God's wheat and shall be ground by the teeth of wild animals. I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread. (St. Ignatius of Antioch)


The St. Ignatius that I know best founded the Society of Jesus. However, with a little study, we discover that the St. Ignatius whom we remember today was one of the earliest bishops of the church. He was actually consecrated by St. Peter and wrote numerous letters to communities in the region of Syria while on his way to the death chamber in Rome -- also known as the Coliseum. In fact, history tells us that St. Ignatius of Antioch was the first person to refer to our church as "catholic." Because he refused to renounce Christianity, the Romans executed him by feeding him to the lions. However, in his letters, Ignatius refused to be despondent.

The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on.


Are we as willing as Ignatius to accept our fate -- our illness, our poverty, our place in life and death? What hardship can the witness of Ignatius help you to endure this week?