Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Faith is the body of the Lord and love is his blood



~by St. Ignatius of Antioch

Take on meekness. Be renewed in faith, which is the flesh of the Lord, and in love, which is the blood of Jesus Christ. Let none of you have a grudge against his neighbour. Give no occasion to the heathen: do not let the congregation of God be blasphemed because of the behaviour of a few foolish persons. For Woe to him who makes anyone blaspheme my name without a cause.

Be deaf therefore when anyone preaches to you without mentioning Jesus Christ, who was of the family of David, who was truly born of Mary, who truly ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth; who was also truly raised from the dead, when his Father raised him up — just as his Father will raise us up, believers in Christ Jesus without whom we have no true life.

Flee from these preachers, these wicked offshoots that bear deadly fruit, one taste of which is fatal. These have not been planted by the Father; if they had been, they would grow as branches of the Cross and their fruit would be incorruptible. Through the Cross he calls you, who are parts of his own body, to himself. A head cannot come into being alone, without the rest of the body; for God promises unity, as he himself is unity.

I greet you from Smyrna together with the Churches of God that are present with me, men who in all things have given me solace in the flesh and in the spirit. I carry my chains for the sake of Jesus Christ, praying that I may attain to God; and these chains appeal to you to continue in your present harmony and in prayer with one another. For it is right that each of you, and especially the presbyters, should give the bishop peace of mind, to the honour of the Father, of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles. I appeal to you to listen to me in love, so that this letter can never be used in evidence against you. And pray for me also, for I have need of your love in the mercy of God, that I may be granted the lot which I am set to obtain, and not be rejected.

The love of the Smyrnaeans and Ephesians greets you: remember in your prayers the Church in Syria, of which I am the most undeserving member. Farewell in Jesus Christ. Submit yourselves to the bishop as you would to God’s commandments, submit to the clergy likewise. Let each of you individually love one another with an undivided heart. My spirit is consecrated to you not only now, but also when I reach the presence of God. I am still in peril, but the Father can be trusted in Jesus Christ to fulfil both your prayers and mine. May you be found blameless in Christ.

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