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This Makes Me Think… about what being sold-out for God really looks like — even martyrdom becomes a gift

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. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God.

No earthly pleasures, no kingdoms of this world can benefit me in any way. I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire. The time for my birth is close at hand. Forgive me, my brothers. Do not stand in the way of my birth to real life; do not wish me stillborn. My desire is to belong to God. Do not, then, hand me back to the world. Do not try to tempt me with material things. Let me attain pure light. Only on my arrival there can I be fully a human being. Give me the privilege of imitating the passion of my God. If you have him in your heart, you will understand what I wish. You will sympathize with me because you will know what urges me on.

My love of this life has been crucified, and there is no yearning in me for any earthly thing. Rather within me is the living water which says deep inside me: “Come to the Father.” I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God’s bread, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave his blood, which is love that cannot perish.

-St Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, en route to certain martyrdom.

 

History footnotes: St Ignatius of Antioch, in his 80s, was being carried to Rome from his church in Antioch to be tried, and likely killed by lions or other wild animals in an arena during a time of persecution between 98 and 117AD. He wrote this letter to the church of Rome to ask the church members there who might otherwise intervene to save him from certain death, to allow him to stand trial and to die for the faith. He did not have “a death wish”, he was deeply devoted to Christ and was ready to die for him if necessary.  You can read more of his letter here. You can read more about his life here. 

 

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Advent Journal Entry: Advent Advice from Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another…”

Advent Journal Entry: Advent Advice from Romans 15:7: “Welcome one another…”

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

I’m having a different kind of Advent where I’m trying to walk, not run… think, not speak… fast, not feast…(yet)… be mindful, not forget… Love, not withhold.

So I’m asking Jesus to help me to not only see the whole big picture — the way my theological-analytical-critical-creative skills might drive me — but to see the smaller, particular, personal things he needs me to know, see, and be.

This lone verse comes to us from the longer epistle for the Second Sunday of Advent. My love of St Paul’s good counsel always makes my heart desire to lean in to what he is saying.

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Welcome one another…

Oh, to be welcomed!

…Momma and Daddy welcoming a newborn…

…Kids coming home after school and there’s hot cocoa and cookies and snow day tomorrow!

…A beloved son or daughter returning home from a semester away!

…A husband waiting to meet you for a special date he’s planned!

…A long-distance friend arriving at the airport!

…Your most fun guests arriving at your front door!

…Or like the one you’ve longed for, prayed for, to come back to your family, or to their family, or to the church!

It warms the heart to offer such welcome… to lavish one’s love on the one being welcomed. Or to be the recipient of such a welcome.

What a watchword for me. How’s my welcome? Of Christ? Of others? How can it improve? What does this call me to in terms of hospitality, and generosity?

O Mary, help me with this… help me welcome Jesus and others into my heart, my life, my home, like you.

…as Christ welcomed you…

Yes, this is the Little Child of Bethlehem welcoming his Momma and Poppa into His Sacred Heart… who smiles at angels and the warmth of their song… feels the breath of animals nearby and nods at the shepherds with their sheep in tow… and goos at the holy magi who came a distance. This, too, is Jesus who see us kneel tenderly before the creche in our homes and churches.

Yes, this welcoming Christ really is the One all our hearts long for — that took on flesh… so we would know his face, his touch, and the Father’s heart through His. The same Christ in whose name we merit Baptism — a true welcome into union with God and with the Church.

Yes, this is the same Christ who takes on a living Presence in the Eucharist and welcomes us to an intimacy with God that is beyond our wildest imagining, and our deepest hopes.

…for the glory of God.

It’s true. Jesus has already come. He is already Present. And He will come again. This thrice-Advent welcomes us in!IMG_0308

It’s true, the glory of God lives in us by baptism: “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Col. 1:27)

It’s true, the glory of God is the end of our story.

The welcome we give to others must imitate the welcome Christ bids to us…. and Lord-willing, to foreshadow the welcome we’ll receive in our heavenly home, as we all sit together with Christ at the head of the heavenly banquet.

“I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” Let the hearer say, “Come.” Let the one who is thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the give of life-giving water.  (Rev 22:16-17)

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Bonus Chorus from “The Messiah” (G. F. Handel):

“And the Glory of the Lord will be revealed… and all flesh will shall see it together… for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

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You can read the first journal entry for the first week of Advent here.

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