October 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 203

LITURGY for Tuesday and Wednesday, October 17-18, 2000

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

      First Reading: Galatians 5: 1-6
      Psalms: Psalm 119: 41, 43-45, 47-48
      Gospel Reading: Luke 11: 37-41

Feast of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

        Considered a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Ignatius of Antioch was converted to Christianity around 50 AD. Many accounts report that he was consecrated a bishop by Saint Peter (first bishop of Antioch) to replace his dear friend Bishop Evodius (second bishop) in the See of Antioch shortly after that. He ruled Antioch as the Diocese's third bishop for around 40 years. Legend has it that he was persecuted by the notorious Emperor Trajan at the turn of the first century and the Roman ruler ordered him to be brought to him in Rome by ship. This ship stopped often on its route to Rome, docking at various coastal towns in Asia Minor, Smyrna and Greece. At each port Ignatius was greeted with enthusiasm and love by Christians, but further persecuted by the Roman soldiers on the ship. He wrote four letters to the churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralies and Rome as well as to the churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna and to Saint Polycarp. His final letter to the Christians in Rome beseeched them not to try to stop his martyrdom for that was the will of God and his blood, along with countless other Christians, would nourish the seed of Christianity as he so eloquently stated: "The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the sacrifice of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the pure bread of Christ." Historians report he reached Rome on December 20, 107 and was immediately led into the great colosseum and fed to the lions who had been starved for days in anticipation of his coming. That's how much Trajan feared and despised Ignatius. Two companions were with him during his final days, Agathopus and Philo who transcribed seven letters of instruction Ignatius dictated to them on the Church, the Sacrament of Marriage, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Redemption, the Incarnation and on the Holy Trinity. They became some of the most important and inspiring works passed down among the early Christians. His feast was first celebrated in 360, celebrated in the Syrian Church. His tomb, which is believed to be on the outskirts of Antioch, was venerated since the second century according to Church Doctors Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Jerome. When Antioch was conquered by the Saracens, there are reports his body was exhumed by faithful followers and smuggled to Rome where it was re-buried in the catacombs beneath the church of St. Clement. Whether this is true or not, Ignatius is venerated in both places today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2000

      First Reading: 2 Timothy 4: 10-17
      Psalms: Psalm 145: 10-13, 17-18
      Gospel Reading: Luke 10: 1-9


        Historians differ on whether Saint Luke the Evangelist, author of the Third Gospel, was martyred or died a natural death around the year 84 AD in Boetia. Also unknown is his exact origin though many believe he was Greek hailing from Antioch which is substantiated by Saint Jerome and Saint Eusebius. Others surmise Luke was one of 70 disciples and a close associate of the teacher and prophet Lucius of Cyrene (cf. Acts 13:1) which would more likely confirm Luke's Grecian heritage. Whether this Lucius was the same one who was Paul's companion at Corinth (cf. Romans 16:21) is open to conjecture. We do know he was a physician and a Gentile (cf. Colossians 4: 10-14) and traveled with Saint Paul on his second missionary journey around 51 AD. He stayed on at Philippi in charge of the Christian community there until about 57 when he rejoined Paul on his third journey and accompanied him to Rome where he was during Paul's imprisonment from 61 to 63 AD. After Paul's martyrdom in 66, Luke went back to Greece. There, is is assumed, he wrote his Gospel as well as the Acts of the Apostles as a sort of epilogue so to speak. While Sts. Eusebius and Jerome claim he wrote it before Paul's death while in Rome, their counterpart Saint Iraneaeus maintains it was afterwards. Without a doubt Luke's Gospel was written for Gentile Christians and his account in Acts depicts the growth of the new Church from around 35 to 63 AD, all under the inspiration of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity which was founded by the Second Person of the Trinity Jesus Christ. Whether Luke ever met Jesus is open to conjecture though the evangelist was believed to have been born the same year of Our Lord. While Luke is venerated as the Patron Saint of Doctors, along with Saints Cosmas and Damian, he is also associated with painters for another legend from the sixth century on has him as an accomplished master of various paintings including several icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary for he is believed to have visited Our Lady in Jerusalem before her Assumption into Heaven. There is also the possibility this could have occurred after her Assumption and she appeared to him much in the same manner she appeared to Saint James and countless visionaries throughout the centuries right up to the present day. Luke's writings exhibit an extraordinary literary flow and these, too, could easily have been dictated largely by Heavenly means as so much of Sacred Scripture is. His Gospel shows a steady movement from Nazareth to Jerusalem and Acts shows a direction away from Jerusalem to Rome. His Gospel describes the announcement of good tidings and is broken into six sections: the narrative of Christ's infancy, the Messianic attributes of Jesus, His carrying out these attributes in Galilee, Christ's preaching, His Passion and Death, and the fruits of Jesus' salvific act through His Resurrection and Ascension. In addition, none of the evangelist painted more pictures with words as Luke who is credited with the most parables as related by Our Lord. In paintings Luke is associated with the ox which symbolizes strength as well as sacrifice which introduces his Gospel with the history of Zechariah or Zachary the father of Saint John the Baptist, who offered sacrifice to God (cf. Luke 1:9-25).

October 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 203

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