Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, B.M. (17th October, 2018) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 1:1-4.6. (R. cf. Jn 8:12);
Saint Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35 – c. 108), was an Apostolic Father, student of the Apostle John, and the third bishop of Antioch. En route to Rome for his martyrdom, he wrote seven letters to different Christian communities in which he discussed among other topics, ecclesiology, the sacraments, and the role of bishops. Saint Ignatius was the first to use the term “catholic” to describe the whole Church. He was martyred during the reign of Emperor Trajan, because he refused to renounce the Christian faith and was brutally devoured by wild beasts in a public spectacle.
Topic: Condemnation of evil.
Often we see justice being administered using different standards. The bible attests to the fact that God is neither partial nor takes bribe, cf. Deut 10:17; 2Chr 19:7; Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9. And in today’s gospel, Jesus maintained the same standard for both the Pharisees and the lawyers.
He further denounced the Pharisees in today’s gospel because although they tithe mint, rue, and herbs of all kinds, they neglected justice and love of God. These they ought to have practiced without neglecting others, cf. Mic 6:8. They loved “to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces.” One of the lawyers intercepted, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” Jesus replied him, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”
God’s children are expected to be impartial as their Father, cf. Deut 16:19. Moses charged the tribal leaders, “You shall not be partial in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike; you shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God's” (Deut 1:17; cf. Ex 23:3; Lev 19:15). And the book of Proverbs reads, “To show partiality is not good” (Prov 28:21; cf. Prov 24:23; Jas 2:9).
Despite all these, many including the leaders in the house of God maintain different standards today. This is not what God wants. We are to condemn evil wherever it is, be it in the small or in the great, a friend or a foe, and so on. Saint Ignatius of Antioch preferred Jesus to every other thing. This is summarised in his words, “I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth. Him I seek who died for us; him I love who rose again because of us.” What about you?
Bible Reading: Deut 10:12-22.
Thought for today: God shows no partiality (Rom 2:11).
Let us pray: Lord, give us the strength to avoid bribery and partiality – Amen.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch – Pray for us.
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