DECEMBER 21, 2014 -
"IGNATIUS THE GOD-BEARER"
Christ’s disciples often questioned Him about their place in the Kingdom of Heaven. On one such occasion, our Lord called out to a small child, held him in His arms and proclaimed: “WHOEVER HUMBLES HIMSELF AS THE LITTLE CHILD IS THE GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” Jesus bestowed a spark of divinity with the touch of His hand and this young lad grew up to become St. Ignatius.
After his encounter with Christ, Ignatius remained close to the Apostles. He became a student of St. John, the beloved disciple of the Lord, and he eagerly learned as much as he could about the Divine Saviour that he sought to serve. Ignatius quickly proved himself to be worthy of having been singled out by Christ. He travelled extensively, spreading the Gospel. As a reward for his missionary efforts, St. Ignatius was appointed Bishop of the important city of Antioch, a center of Christianity in the early Church.
As Bishop, St. Ignatius displayed great writing skills. He addressed various Christian communities on matters such as: personal sacrifice, obedience to church authority and preserving the true doctrine of the Church against heretics and unbelievers. He was viewed as a model shepherd by believers everywhere, becoming one of the most admired and beloved hierarchs of his time.
The details of Ignatius’ pious reputation reached the ears of the Emperor Trajan. While passing through Antioch, Trajan sought out this “God-bearer” and offered him a position in the Roman Senate if he would make the customary sacrifices to the Roman idols. When Ignatius refused, the enraged Emperor had him taken to Rome and thrown to the lions. He suffered martyrdom unafraid, for he knew that his reward would be great in heaven: something Christ Himself had promised long ago.