Monday, 17 October 2022 : 29th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the immense love and mercy of God through which each and every one of us have received the assurance of eternal life and salvation, all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. All of us must remember how the Lord cares for us and how He treats us as truly precious people, as His own children, so that we will remember that we should remain focused on Him and not on worldly things and all else which can easily distract us in our way and journey towards His salvation and eternal life.

In our first reading today from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, we heard of the words of St. Paul reminding all the people of God there of everything that the Lord had done for them, in their great fortune in having been rescued and redeemed by their Lord, Master, Saviour and Redeemer. All of them have deserved death and destruction, damnation and hell, and yet, God had mercy on them and because He is so full of love, and to all of us this reminder serves the same purpose, because God’s love, compassion and mercy are extended to all of us, regardless of our background and how great a sinner we have been in our respective lives.

St. Paul himself highlighted just how fallen and wretched our human nature and existence were, and yet, because of God’s love and mercy, all of us have received a new lease of life, a new hope and liberation from our downwards path towards destruction. St. Paul encouraged all of us just as he did to the faithful in Ephesus, reminding us of just how great and rich God’s mercy and compassion truly are. But at the same time, we must also not take His love and mercy for granted, or else, we will end up spurning these advances of love and mercy by the Lord, as what had happened to many of our predecessors, who were so caught up in their pride, ego and greed that they ignored the Lord and His love and mercy.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, that was precisely the reason why so many had faltered in their journey towards the Lord. They all failed to appreciate and embrace the Lord’s approach of love and compassion towards them. They took His love and generosity for granted and ignored and abandoned Him at their own convenience. In the end, they were all condemned not because God did not love them, but because they had little to no faith in Him, and they rejected Him by their own conscious effort and accord. They refused to embrace God’s love and mercy, and preferring to remain in the state of sin, although God has so generously given them His loving compassion and has always offered them His forgiveness.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard about the words of the Lord speaking to His disciples using the example of a rich man who asked Him to judge and support him for his part of the inheritance against his own brethren. The Lord then also mentioned a parable about a rich man who was consumed with worry and preoccupied with his greed and desires, thinking of how he could accumulate more of whatever wealth that he had been gathering up to that point. The Lord concluded that parable and story with the warning of how even that rich man would meet his end, because if God so wills it, his life could end there and then, and nothing of what he had accumulated would accompany him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what does the Lord want us to learn from these passages today? Through His Church and the Scriptures today, the Lord wants us to know that we should be vigilant with ourselves and with the many temptations ever present all around us, lest we may be tempted to abandon Him and His love for the sake of worldly glory, material wealth, fame, possessions, human praise, status and many other things in this world which often distracted us and dragged us away from the path of God and into the path towards damnation and destruction. We have often indulged in these worldly desires and ended up forgetting about God, about His love and mercy.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, one of the great early Church fathers whose life and works, whose actions and faith can become sources of inspiration for all of us in how each one of us can become ever better and more committed Christians in life. St. Ignatius of Antioch was one of the early Church fathers and bishops as the successors of the Apostles in the ministry of the Church, and he was the successor of St. Peter in the See of Antioch that the Apostle founded, who was dedicated to his flock and the expansion of the Church, for the care and salvation of souls among others.

St. Ignatius of Antioch was and is still greatly revered for his piety and faith in God, for his immense contribution and commitment to the Lord and His Church, as he wrote extensively to the Church, and corresponded actively with Pope St. Clement, the Bishop of Rome and St. Peter’s successor as the Vicar of Christ, and with the other Church fathers, on top of his work and passionate dedication to his local Christian flock. He faced hardships and challenges just as many of the early Christians and the Apostles themselves had faced, and died as a martyr in defending his faith and love for God.

Let us all therefore follow the good examples set by our holy predecessors, by St. Ignatius of Antioch and the innumerable other saints and martyrs, who have shown us what it truly means for us to become Christians, in becoming the holy people of God, called and chosen from this darkened and wretched world. We have been called to a greater and holier existence, to be like our loving and good Father, our Lord and Saviour Himself. Therefore, each and every one of us should strive to purify our lives and to align ourselves to His path and teachings, and reject all the corruptions and other things which sin had brought unto us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, may the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in life, that we may ever persevere through the challenges and trials of life, especially when our faith in Him are tested and when we face hardships in life. We should remain firm in our faith and commitment to God, remembering His faithfulness to the Covenant that He had made with us, the love which He had generously given us and the compassion by which He willingly forgives us our sins. Let us all therefore commit ourselves to the Lord anew and endeavour and strive to lead a new life from now on, without sin any more. May God bless us and remain with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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