Reflection by Annette K. Tenny
Today’s Gospel: Luke 11:47-54 – Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch
“Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”
After months of being sniped at by the Pharisees, Jesus, apparently, has had enough. He calls them out for subverting the laws given by God. He exposes their hypocrisy and self-serving desires for power and office, and publicly shames them for creating man-made rules.
“…burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”
Is there any adult Catholic in this world who hasn’t been ‘phariseed’ or ‘scribed’ nearly to tears? Has there not been, at least one time in your life, where you’ve encountered someone so in love with the sound of their own voice and the cleverness of their own biblical interpretations that they’ve sucked the oxygen from the room and temporarily, the faith from your soul? Lord knows I have.
For most of us, the consequences of such an encounter are disheartening but minor and last only as long as it takes to get away. (As in, “Oh, terribly sorry but I must go” as you run for the nearest exit.) For Jesus, the encounter is deadly. He’s angered and insulted the powerful. He’s peeled back the layer of outward piety to show the void beneath. From this point forward, Jesus is marked for death.
This Gospel reading resonates in perfect harmony with the saint memorialized today. St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr was taken into custody during a short but brutal persecution in Syria. Ignatius wrote letters to the apostolic churches as he was marched through Turkey to the lions and bloodthirsty crowds that awaited him in Rome. The letters were a powerful testimony to his love for Christ and his belief that his martyrdom would bring a bounty of conversions to the faith. It did, but the letters contained another power.
St. Ignatius, in each of his letters, in clear and concise prose, passed on the apostolic faith as it had been given to him. Appointed to his see by St. Peter, a clerk to St. John, Ignatius gifted those who came after him with a war chest of knowledge to fight the coming heretical battles.
Who are the most vulnerable to bad catechesis and personal add-ons … burdens hard to carry? Are there children, teens, inquirers, new converts who I can guide faithfully?
O Holy Spirit, help me to be faithful to the Word, always and in all times and places. Amen.
Copyright 2019 Annette K. Tenny
Annette K. Tenny is a freelance writer living in the Sauratown Mountains of North Carolina.
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