Come to the Father

From the Epistle to the Romans 6:1-9 (ca. 107) 

The delights of this world and all its kingdoms will not profit me. I would prefer to die in Jesus Christ that to rule over all the earth. I seek him who died for us, I desire him who rose for us. I am in the throes of being born again. Bear with me, beloved; do not keep me from living, do not wish me to die. I desire to belong to God; do not give me over to the world, and do not seduce me with perishable things. Let me see the pure light; when I am there, I shall be truly fulfilled at last. Let me imitate the sufferings of my God. If anyone has God within, understand what I want and have sympathy for me, knowing what drives me on.  

The prince of this world would snatch me away and destroy my desire to be with God. So let none of you who will be there give Satan help; side rather with me, that is, with God. Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your hearts. Give envy no place among you. And if, when I get there, I should beg for your intervention, pay no attention to me; no, believe instead what I am writing to you now. For I write to you while I yet live, but I long for death. My earthly desires have been crucified, and there no longer burns within me a desire for perishable things, but a living water speaks within me, “Come to the Father.” 

I take no delight in corruptible food or in the pleasures of this life. I want the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of David’s seed, and for drink I want his blood, the sign of his imperishable love. 

I no longer wish to live, as people count life. And I shall have my way, if you wish it so. Wish it, then, so that you too may have God’s favor. With these few words I beg you to believe me. Jesus Christ will make plain to you the truth of what I say; he is the true voice that speaks the Father’s truth. Pray for me that I may reach my goal. I have written to you not prompted by mee human feelings and values, but by God’s purpose for me. If I am to suffer, it will be because you loved me well; if I am rejected, it will be because you hate me. 

Remember in your prayers the church of Syria; it now has God for its shepherd instead of me. Jesus Christ alone will be its bishop, along with your love. For myself, I am ashamed to be counted among ts members, for I do not deserve it, being the least of all, born out of due time. Yet, if I attain to God, by his mercy I shall be something. I greet you from my heart, and so do the churches that have welcomed me in love not as a mere passerby but as the representative of Jesus Christ. Yes, even the churches that were not on my route humanly speaking, though spiritually on the same journey, were there to meet me in city after city. 

St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. 107) was the second bishop of Antioch in Syria, who was martyred by Trajan in the area in Rome. While traveling to his execution, he wrote a series of epistles to the leaders of the churches who hosted him along the way, which have become important sources for orthodox teaching about Christology, the sacred ministry, and the sacraments. His Epistle to the Romans warns the Christians at his final destination not to stand in the way of his calling to imitate Christ in a martyr’s sufferings. His feast day is October 17. 


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