Commentary by Jaibee

From a letter to the Ephesians by Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (from the readings of the Liturgy of the Hours):

Have faith in Christ, and love

Try to gather together more frequently to give thanks to God and to praise him. For when you come together frequently, Satan’s powers are undermined, (1) and the destruction he threatens is done away with in the unanimity of your faith. Nothing is better than peace, in which all warfare between heaven and earth is brought to an end.

None of this will escape you if you have perfect faith and love toward Jesus Christ. These are the beginning and the end of life: faith the beginning, love the end. (2) When these two are found together, there is God, and everything else concerning right living follows from them. No one professing faith sins; no one possessing love hates. “A tree is known by its fruit.” So those who profess to belong to Christ will be known by what they do. (3) For the work we are about is not a matter of words here and now, but depends on the power of faith and on being found faithful to the end.

It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. Teaching is good if the teacher also acts. Now there was one teacher who “spoke, and it was made,” and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. (4) Nothing is hidden from the Lord, but even our secrets are close to him. Let us then do everything in the knowledge that he is dwelling within us so that we may be his temples and he may be God within us. (5) He is, and will reveal himself, in our sight, according to the love we bear him in holiness.

“Make no mistake,” my brothers: those who corrupt families “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” If those who do these things in accordance with the flesh have died, how much worse will it be if one corrupts through evil doctrine the faith of God for which Jesus was crucified. Such a person, because he is defiled, will depart into the unquenchable fire, as will any one who listens to him.

For the Lord received anointing on his head in order that he might breathe incorruptibility on the Church. Do not be anointed with the evil odour of the teachings of the prince of this world, do not let him lead you captive away from the life that is set before you. But why is it that we are not all wise when we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we perish in our stupidity, (6) not knowing the gift the Lord has truly sent us?

My spirit is given over to the humble service of the cross which is a stumbling block to unbelievers but to us salvation and eternal life.

(1) For me, I associate this with daily Mass. Daily reception of the Eucharist which gives us amazing power and grace to be not only what He wants us to be, but to be the man or woman we ourselves wish to be.
(2) Faith — even the size of a mustard seed; Love — conformity to God, who is love.
(3) We will not be saved by our works, but rather by our faith in God. As we trust only in Him, we grow in conformity to Him and thus more closely resemble that which is pure love. The more we allow ourselves to be filled with this pure love, the more our actions will demonstrate this; not out of pride or boasting, but from an interior conversion of heart.
(4) How often do we sin by the works of our tongue? Of what need do others have to know of our good deeds? To inflate our egos and to make a mockery of the humility to which we aspire?
(5) Live so as not to show others “me,” but to show “Him in me.”
(6) It is by listening to that evil doubt within us, the seed planted by the Evil One, that we are not strong enough or that maybe we don’t have all the answers and should get other opinions (opinions from the world, and not of God) instead of clinging to our own faith. Of course, we are not strong enough — but God is! If we but have faith in Him, there is no one who can take us from His hand!

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