Saturday, Oct. 17th 2020

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Today's Mass Readings

 

The Letter to the Ephesians introduces today a body-image, in order to help us understand the central place which the Church occupies in the History of Salvation. St. Paul wishes to highlight, in a graphic way, the bond that brings together, into one relationship, Christ the Redeemer and all his deemed people.

We know that our human body acts as a single organism, as long as it breathes and lives. We know, too, that every healthy limb, nerve, muscle, organ, and blood vessel in the body is crucial for our well-being. We know that the body grows and prospers, yet sometimes falls ill. The body-image is thus readily comprehensible and can help us grasp the great mystery of the Body of Christ which Paul the Apostle intended it to represent.

Paul declares in Ephesians, that this Mystical Body is the “fullness of him who fills the universe.” The body, which is the Church, contributes to the “fullness of Christ.” Being at the head, Christ needs his body so as to be complete, just as a business corporation needs not only a board of directors and a chief executive, but also many stockholders as well. Christ needs all of his bodily members to be whole.

Both the Gospel passage today and the memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch offer us close parallels to Paul’s idea of Christ’s Mystical Body. The bishop Ignatius, while on his way to martyrdom in the public arena, prayed fervently that the beasts would grind him up so as become a permanent member of the Body of Christ. He was alluding to the grains of wheat which must first be ground up into the flour which one needs for making a loaf of bread – but indeed the pure bread of the Eucharist and, at the same time, part of the Mystical Body of Christ. He pleads with his readers in the Seven Church of Asia Minor to attempt nothing whatsoever to interfere.

May the Holy Spirit give us abundant wisdom and insight, so that we may acknowledge outwardly our allegiance to Christ Jesus, so that he may do the same for us in the glory of heaven. This is the promise he makes. May the Holy Spirit stir up our faith and gratitude for the wonderful gift of being Christ’s Mystical Body, a body in which we are “joined firmly together by each supporting ligament” (Ephesians 4:16).

Reflection by Fr. Quentin Kathol, OSB

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