Saturday, October 17, 2020

God-Bearer

 Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Martyr, also known as Ignatius Theophorus. He was bishop of Antioch, almost certainly the third bishop of Antioch, succeeding St. Evodius, who succeeded St. Peter. If Theodoret of Cyr is right, he may have been hand-selected by Peter to succeed Evodius. He was apparently arrested and transported to Rome. Presumably that means he was a Roman citizen -- otherwise it's difficult to explain why he was sent to Rome to be tried rather than tried locally -- but there are features of his transportation that violate the usual protocols for when a Roman citizen was transferred to Rome for trial (e.g., unless he was speaking figuratively, he was put in chains, and the route taken, while well established is an oddly indirect one), so we don't know for sure what the reason was. We do, however, have letters he wrote to various churches while en route. Tradition says he was martyred in Rome under Trajan, probably around 107. From the letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians (chapters 14 &15):


None of these things escapes your notice, if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. For these are the beginning and the end of life: faith is the beginning and love is the end, and the two, when they exist in unity, are in God. No one professing faith sins, nor does anyone possessing love hate. The tree is known by its fruit; thus those who profess to be Christ's will be recognized by their actions. For the work is a matter not of what one promises now, but of persevering to the end in the power of the faith.

It is better to be silent and be real than to talk and not be real. It is good to teach, if one does what one says. Now there is one teacher, who spoke and it happened; indeed, even the things that he has done in silence are worthy of the Father. The one who truly possesses the word of Jesus is also able to hear his silence, so that he may be perfect, so that he may act through what he says and be known through his silence. Nothing is hidden from the Lord; even our secrets are close to him. Therefore let us do everything with the knowledge he dwells in us, in order that we may be his temples, and he may be in us as our God--as, in fact, he really is, as will be made clear in our sight by the love that we justly have for him.


[Michael W. Holmes, tr. The Apostolic Fathers, 3rd edition, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI; 2007), p. 195.] 

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