Thursday, October 17, 2013

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

(Romans 3:21-30; Luke 11:47-54)

St. Ignatius of Antioch contributed significantly to the historical knowledge of early Christianity.  His seven letters while traveling to Rome for martyrdom give an unparalleled picture of Church order at the turn of the second century.  Yet the zealousness, for which he is also famous, may make him more repulsive than interesting.  In one letter he asks his readers not to interfere on his behalf when he is called to enter the lion’s den.  Was he crazy?

Not likely.  He was holy, that is given to God in an untypical way that made him desire to be with God more than linger with other human beings.  Widows sometimes express a similar death wish as they long to be reunited with their husbands in eternal life.  Ignatius evidently believed what St. Paul teaches in the passage from his letter to the Romans (one of Ignatius’ letters is also entitled so) read today.  Because God has deemed him righteous on account of his faith, upon death he will experience eternal life.

We need not question our faith if we find ourselves wanting to live a long life.  After all, we can enjoy a fruitful relationship with God among family and friends.  Nevertheless, when God calls us, we will hopefully not rage against death but accept it as an invitation to see God, as St. Paul touchingly describes it in another letter, “face-to-face.”