Saturday, 17 October – Faith in the Dark

17 October – St Ignatius of Antioch

Ignatius (c. 50–107) was a convert from paganism to Christianity. He succeeded Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. He served during persecution of Domitian. During the persecution of Trajan, he was ordered to be taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. He was the first writer to use the term The Catholic Church. He was an apostolic father and a martyr. His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Legend says he was the infant that Jesus took into his arms in Mark 9.

– Patron Saint Index

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Romans 4:13,16-18

The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.

Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.

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Luke 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.

‘Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

‘When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.’

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If anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels.

How comforting it is to be promised a defense before the court of angels – by Jesus Christ himself! No, this is not a pipe dream, the candy-coated part of our faith that we will never live to see. It is true in the present, in that the heavenly court is an unseen reality right now. But of course, this is invisible to the naked eye. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1).

St Paul tells the Romans that Abraham is their father of faith too, precisely because they have received their faith through Christ Jesus and not by Jewish tradition. “The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law, but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith.” (Rm 4:13). This was a very important statement in the time of the early church because there was often strife between the Jews of Abrahamic descent, and the pagans and gentiles who were adopted into the faith. Those who became adopted children of God could sometimes face discrimination or a lower esteem as ‘second-class family members’. I suppose this could be the experience of some of our young brethren in this day and age. St Paul wanted to assure them of their equal sonship through Christ.

The thing about the gift of faith is that the length of reception into the family does not matter. What matters is a deep desire and sincerity in believing in God. “What fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us” who believe in the one God “who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist” (Rm 4:16-17).

A totally new life in Christ is what awaits those amongst us who have yet to come to know God the Heavenly Father, or have yet to be fully received into the Church family. What lies behind them no longer matters in this new life. As St Paul encourages the early Philippian church too, “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi 3:13-14).

And even those of us who struggle to put one foot in front of the other in this dark night of our faith journeys, let us be comforted that: “Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised” (Rm 4:18).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)

Prayer: I pray for a deeper trust in God, in responding to this gift and mystery of faith. 

Thanksgiving: Thank you God, for this gift of knowing you and your Son Jesus Christ who walks with me.

 

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