Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop
(Ephesians 2:1-10; Luke 12:13-21)
The word rich makes one think of money. People speak of Warren Buffet as being the richest American. But the word has ambivalent roots. It is derived from a Middle English word meaning noble or powerful. It can be said that St. Ignatius of Antioch was rich in faith. He strongly believed that God would reward him eternal life if he died giving testimony to Christ. When he was arrested and sentenced to death, he pleaded with supporters not to intercede for him so that he might be martyred. In today’s readings another kind of richness is extolled.
The Letter to the Ephesians speaks of God as so “rich in mercy” that He gave Christians a new start in life. Through Christ they are redeemed from sinful ways so that they might practice virtue. In the gospel Jesus specifies how his followers are to live. He exhorts his listeners to be “rich in what matters to God.” He wants them to show mercy to those in great need. He has in mind especially using one’s wealth to assist the poor.
We strive to have enough physical riches to live at least securely if not comfortably. We are being encouraged to share some of our physical riches so that we may become rich in mercy as well. When we become like God, we too can be confident of being awarded eternal life.