When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say. (Lk 12:11-12)
Today is the feast of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius, who was a convert to Christianity, eventually became the bishop of Antioch. He was a bishop in the very early Church when Christianity was illegal. In 107, the emperor, Trajan, came to Antioch and ordered all Christians to make a choice. They could either deny Christ and the faith and keep their lives or they could remain believers and be condemned to death.
Ignatius chose death.
He is best known for letters that he wrote on his way from Antioch to Rome. Those letters encouraged the Christians to hold firm to the faith. Ignatius knew that the Romans could kill a body but they had no control over a soul. Ignatius — indeed, all of us — knew that he was “homeward bound”.
One of his final letters was addressed to St. Polycarp. In it, he wrote, “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 was thrown to the lions in the Circus Maximus.
Our lives are filled with strife. They can be quite a struggle.
In our lives, we often are tempted and/or confronted to give up the faith.
The truth that Ignatius of Antioch knew is the same truth today: they can take away our bodies, they cannot touch our souls.
Let the Lord guide you this day. Hold firm to the end!
FAITH ACTION: Do you find yourself wavering in the faith? Ask the martyrs to intercede for you to the Lord that you may have a share of their courage.