Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the words of the Holy Scriptures, speaking to us about the grace and blessings that shall await all those who keep and maintain their faith in God, and the curses and the condemnations that await all those who have veered away from the path towards the Lord and towards salvation.
The example of Abraham, our forefather in faith was used, in his obedience and exemplary actions and life, which were filled with the obedience and the trust which he showed to God, the complete faith and trust that he had shown, which made his descendants to become truly blessed by God’s grace. This is done so to inspire all of us to strive for righteousness and justice, and therefore become eligible to enjoy forever God’s love and grace.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have been called to a new life of repentance, of redemption and of forgiveness. All of us have been called out of the pit of darkness, misery and wickedness, and we are all called into the life filled with God’s justice and grace, which can become a reality only if all of us gather together and work together to achieve that goal of salvation in God.
Those who have not been faithful to God, who refused to listen to the word of God, and those who have gone astray in their lives, walking in their own paths in disobedience to the Law of God, will receive the wrath and anger of God, and God shall reject them, just as they themselves had rejected Him first. God is merely reciprocating the hatred and the unwillingness of those who have not given their love to Him. Yet, if these people were to repent and change their ways, God will readily show His infinite mercy and love to them.
God is ever loving and merciful, but this does not mean that He readily tolerates our sins and wickedness. He loves each and every one of us personally and as His beloved children and creation, but He does not love our sins and our wrongdoings. He hates all forms of sins and injustice, all forms of malice and wickedness, all forms of evil and all the darkness that lie in our actions.
If we persist in retaining all those sins and darkness, then certainly all of us will be condemned and prevented from reaching salvation in the Lord. This is because those sins and wicked things in our words and actions are barriers and obstacles that stop us from finding our way to the Lord. Those sins are what preventing us from receiving the fullness of God’s grace and blessings, and they kept us away from the light, remaining in the darkness and the abyss.
This is why, we ought to reflect on our own actions and deeds, and we should think about what we have done in this life, so that we may realise the current state of our being, whether we stand in righteousness and grace of God, or whether we are in danger of falling into the condemnation of eternal hell. Thus, we ought to heed the example of a holy man and saint whose feast day we celebrate on this day.
Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second bishop and leader of the faithful in Antioch, a great city of Christendom in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was counted among the birthplaces of Christianity, as the place where the faithful were first called as Christianoi, or Christians. It was the place where the Church was established by St. Peter the Apostle, the Vicar of Christ, who later went on to establish the Church in Rome.
St. Ignatius of Antioch was his successor as the second Bishop of Antioch, and he helped to continue the establishment of the Church in Antioch and beyond, caring for the spiritual and overall well-being of his flock, giving them examples to follow and exhorting them to be always faithful to God and His ways, and resist the temptations of worldly goods and human greed.
Eventually, St. Ignatius of Antioch shared in the suffering of Christ our Lord, when he and the other Christians were persecuted under the orders of the civil authorities of the Roman Empire. The Emperor and the officials of the Roman state opposed the Christians and their teachings of truth, and they attempted to snuff out the light of the Church at its young stage of growth.
Nevertheless, St. Ignatius of Antioch remained resolute and committed to the evangelisation and spreading of God’s Good News of the Gospel, and he suffered death and martyrdom knowing that the works he had begun would be carried on by those who came after him, and his martyrdom served as an inspiration for countless others to also pick up their crosses and follow the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, let us on this day reflect once again on our own lives. We have a clear choice on whether to obey the Lord and His ways, walking in His righteousness and justice, and practicing His will and commandments in all of our words and actions, or whether we want to follow he devil and all of his errors and lies.
Let us all take concrete actions in our lives, so that in all the things we do and say, we will show a renewed effort of loving and serving the Lord our God, with all of our hearts’ strength. May the Lord have mercy on us all, forgive us all our sins, and bring us into everlasting life. Amen.