St Ignatius of AntiochIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. We commemorate St Ignatius of Antioch. May the father among the saints pray for us. Amen.

We commemorate father among the saints, St Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, on the transfer of his holy relics to Rome before the Schism.

The holy father and saint left us seven epistles, on faith, love, and deeds. He reminded us the following concerning bishops:

“Hearken ye unto the bishop, so that God in turn might hearken unto you… let Baptism remain with you, like a shield and buckler; faith – like an helmet; love – like a spear; patience – like full armor”.

St Ignatius reminded us of 3 basic things every Christian must possess – faith, love, and patience. He said that faith is like an helmet protecting our heads, while love is a spear to arm ourselves in our spiritual struggles. And yet, patience, he said is like full armor, which we defend against our spiritual adversaries.

We are curious creatures, as we try to intellectualize everything that comes our way. That can cause us our downfall (as the proverbial saying “curiosity kills the cat”). As we reflect upon St Mark 11:27-33 based on Orthodoxy, we must realize and recognize that not everything can be grasped by our mortal minds and hearts, and not everything needs to have an answer, for there are great mysteries, and in fact, Holy mysteries, that we will simply rely on our child-like faith unto God, and leave in His Hands and His Will.

Patience is a great virtue, for God waits for us with infinite patience for us to repent our sins and reconcile with Him. Likewise, God hopes that we too will patiently wait for His Divine Will (Isaiah 30:18-19).

Patience is endurance, as Ecclesiastes 7:4-9 reminds us to wait silently and patiently, taking suffering in our stride, and not to get angry. Our anger is unholy, and does not help us struggle towards God at all. Do not deceive ourselves, and do not allow the evil one to tempt us to believe that our anger is of any use. Our anger is utterly useless, and in fact is poisonous to our spiritual struggles. Be patient.

In St James 4:7-5:9, we are grimly reminded that Christ our Lord, the Judge, is at the door, meaning that He is already near as Judge. We cannot be lax or complacent and think that time is on our hands. In the passage, we are to be patient. We cannot wrestle every life event to suit our passions. We must be patient and abide in our Lord’s Will. And we are reminded to be humble and submit to God. We are reminded that every ounce of wealth we hold, is not ours to keep, but to shepherd for the benefit of others.

Persian Monk Aphraates, whom we also commemorate today, renounced his illustrious lineage and wealth, and became a monk for the prayers and benefits of others he served. He abided in the Will of God, and in the Scriptural admonitions, to leave the shackles of materialism and fame behind him, to serve others, to illuminate others to the Truth of our Lord.

We do not know many things. We do not know the time of our passing. We do not know the end of days. We do not know the time of Judgement. We do not know our eventuality. But we do know that our Lord and Christ is our beacon, our illumination, our goal. We do know that we are to repent and pray unto Him until our last breath. We do know that every prayer and good deed for the sake of others is a small step of love and faith. And we do know that our Lord hopes in our patience and not our curiosity.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Isaiah 30:18-19
Ecclesiastes 7:4-9
James 4:7-5:9
Mark 11:27-33