Take Care to Guard Against All Greed

Homily, 10-17-22; Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch:

Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius of Antioch who lived in the first century. He was born in the year 50 and was a disciple of John, the apostle. He was ordained a bishop by our first pope, St. Peter, in the year 69. And he died a martyr in about the year 110, being fed to the lions in the coliseum.

St. Ignatius’ faith was so strong that he begged his followers not to intercede on his behalf to prevent him from being executed. He longed to be in Heaven with Jesus and had no doubts that that it would take place. He wrote: “I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. I plead with you: show me no untimely kindness. Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God’s wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ’s pure bread.”

Ignatius’ writings are very much in line with our readings this morning. St. Paul talks about the power of the prince of darkness when he writes: “You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient.” And Jesus tells us not to build up material treasures, but instead worry about our eternal life. He says: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” And in line with both of these sentiments, Ignatius wrote: “The prince of this world is determined to lay hold of me and to undermine my will which is intent on God. Let none of you here help him; instead show yourselves on my side, which is also God’s side. Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world.”

“Do not talk about Jesus Christ as long as you love this world.” If we love this world, we will not have a focus on following Jesus on the path to eternal life in Heaven. We will not be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to pick up our crosses and follow the way of King of Heaven. Instead, we will be deceived by the prince of this world.

We are living in a time when persecution of Christians, in fact people of any faith, is increasing. We see people being attacked for their beliefs verbally and physically. We see people losing their jobs, jeopardizing their economic future, for standing up for the teachings of their faith. Church buildings are being vandalized. Who knows where our society is heading in the near future. There is a good chance that we will all have to make some tough decisions to stay true to our Catholic faith. Some of you might already have. Let us pray for the intercession of St. Ignatius that we can be strengthened in the conviction of our faith in Jesus Christ, that we may be able to face persecution as courageously as he did.

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