Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Saturday: Hang Tough!

Today's Feast Day: St. Ignatius of Antioch

Challenge! How do you respond to challenges? Today's feast day focuses on very early Christian, Ignatius of Antioch. Most likely he was appointed by Peter as the head of the Church in Antioch. By the year 107 AD, Ignatius was dead, victim of the persecutions of Trajan, the Roman Emperor.

Our early ancestors surely endured extreme challenges to their faith, even their very lives. Ignatius, while being brought from Antioch to Rome to face a trial, wrote a few letters that stand as models of a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. He penned these frightening but powerful words: "I am God's wheat, and I am to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, so that I may become the pure bread of Christ."

Most of us today are not living in circumstances that are as horribly frightening. We live in a generation when subtlety reigns. It is the sword; it is the grinding teeth that Ignatius faced. Subtlety is the means used by the Evil spirit in our world to bring us to deny Jesus Christ! How often are you confronted by jokes about your faith? How often are there subtle remarks about our Church's strong defense of life stance? Those water cooler remarks that occur on occasion. The innuendo of some preachers of other faiths against the Catholic Church. These are some of the challenges that dedicated followers of Jesus Christ might say today.

Know this: you are a true radical if you are one who follows Jesus Christ and the teaching of his Church! This is your reality. This is why you may be asked not to be victims of wild beasts' teeth but to take up the cross of subtle ridicule because you believe in Jesus Christ.

The words of Jesus in Luke's gospel today have poignant meaning for the 21st century:

I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.

For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what your should say.