Friday 2 October 2015

Saint Ignatius of Antioch 17th October Saint Ignace d’Antioch

"If someone serves me, my Father will honour him, ’ said Jesus.

Ph.3,17-4 1 Ps.33 Jn.12,24-26

Saint Ignatius of Antioch 17th October “Amen amen, I tell you, if a grain of wheat fallen to the ground does not die, it remains alone ; but if it dies it will bear much fruit.”

Some days before his death, Jesus announced to his disciples that he was going to leave and he used the image of a seed falling into the earth. The societies we live in are founded on what passes away, what is ephemeral. All this short term and immediate things leave mankind faced with emptiness, faced with the question : what happens after death? Now, night-time is never complete, there is always a bit of the road where a lit-up window is open. The word of God is a Word of fire that warms up the heart. But unless we put in some effort ourselves and marvel at it, this fire won’t light. Francis of Assisi sang : ’Praised be to You for our sister Death.’ The image of the seed that bears life in itself and the life of many other seeds is the image of Jesus. Likewise, Christ gave his life for us so that we may have true life divine life, within us. We want to take a path of obedience, of tenderness and love, which allows God to do his work of Peace in our lives. Ignatius of Antioch understood this message. He understood that if his persecutors were wrong to persecute him, he was right to surrender himself because he joined Christ in his immolation, for he offered up his life. The first reading tells us not to live as “ennemies of the Cross of Christ.” We give thanks for this path of Love, the greatest gift of all life. At the moment of going to calvary to offer up his Life, Jesus took bread and wine, in gentleness and humility he made the gift of his Body and his Blood so that we may have Life. He makes a wedding feast of it so that we can ’Love our ennemies, do good to those who persecute us, bless those who curse us.’

“Whoever loves his life will lose it ; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Today is the fesat day of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself up to the service of the Church. He was a martyr. We are called to do as Jesus did, invited to die to ourselves not to be centred upon ourselves, but to die to ourselves, to give and share what is best in ourselves to people around us.How beautiful this is and at the same time it is something great. Life and happiness of those who surround us depend upon the gift we make of ourselves. What animated Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s heart was the ardour he had for the

Eucharist. It is the gift of the Body and Blood of Jesus that gave him the same fervour as the Apostle Paul : ’ With Christ, I am fixed in the Cross. I live, but it is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me. I live in the faith of the Son of God who loved me and delivered himself up for me.’

Some extracts of St Ignatius’ letters are enlightening :

’Let me receive pure light ; be content enough to ask strength for me, so that I may be a Chrsitian not only by name but by deeds ; my earthly desire has been crucified and all that remains within myself is a spring which murmers : Come to the Father ; To be grinded under the teeth of beasts so as to become the imaculate bread of Christ.“Whoever serves me must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour me.”

Jesus opened up a path of Love that was so great, his life didn’t have a value for him, except for it to be given away. We want to enter into this research of the beauty of life which dwelt in Jesus, despite the sufferings he underwent on Calvary, he didn’t turn away, but manifested a way of life that has meaning to it, one which opens up to Life. “I came to serve and not to be served.” Jesus offered up his life for those who persecuted him . In his school, St. Ignatius said ’ Whatever you might do, do not prevent me from going towards God, don’t hold me back, you would be false witnesses in doing that. I beg you, allow me to accomplish the way of my God.’ The joy of martyrs was such that they would sing canticles to the Lord whilst going to their death. Looking to Jesus in his Goodness and humility and in his obedience, we discover with what Love He loves us.

Give us Lord the grace to folow you in our daily lives. Please, Lord, change our hearts. Help us to become, with others, branches of the vine where you are so that may we bear much fruit of love and so to glorify our Heavenly Father!

We ask for the grace of his joy for all who are persecuted out of Love for Jesus.