For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not from you; it is the gift of God. (Eph 2:8)
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.
[Please keep the bishop and priests of the Diocese of Gary in your prayers as we gather in convocation this week.]