THE GIFT OF GOD
Since we are children of God, we will inherit the riches of His love and our eternal home in heaven.
G. K. Chesterton, a Catholic author in England who died in 1936, wrote "How Odd of God, to Choose the Jews". From a human standpoint it would have made more sense to choose the Romans, with their genius for government and administration, or the Greeks with their high culture and philosophical wisdom. But God, in His wisdom, did indeed choose a group of undistinguished nomads and form them into His people. To them, He revealed Himself as a personal God and called them to worship Him alone and to be a sign of His goodness before the nations. He filled them with hope for a Messiah; a hope, which our faith teaches us, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The first reading today reminds us that in Christ we too are chosen, and that when we believed in the Good News - the message of the Gospel - we were sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus prompts us to bear witness to the value of God in our lives. We hear this throughout the Gospels. Jesus' words flow out to the real world and make us a part of the story of His life. At the same time, we are not left to our own resources. Jesus declares that He will not abandon us. God watches over us carefully, counts the hairs of our head and knows we are more valuable than the sparrows that will never escape His care. Knowing our value in God's eyes, we do not need to be afraid. That is, if we really believe! Knowing our value to God, He holds us precious in all circumstances. Trusting this, we have the strength to bear witness to the value of God in our lives.
The Saint we remember today is Ignatius of Antioch, a bishop and martyr, who had strength to bear witness to God's ways, and who followed St. Peter as head of the Church at Antioch. Ignatius had the same commitment in faith as Abraham did. We know about him primarily through the letters he wrote. One theme in his letters remains as important for the Church today as it was in his time. He encouraged the Church to live in unity, sustained by love, while standing on sound doctrine. He believed dying for the Faith was a witness to one's faith and that it was a privilege. He trusted Jesus' words in the Gospels. St. Ignatius of Antioch is an example of one whose service required that he give everything, including his life. He didn't miss the mark!
In choosing us, God the Father has imprinted His seal upon us. This seal is the Holy Spirit who marks us out as belonging to God, as being His children. The Holy Spirit is also the pledge or promise of our inheritance. Since we are children of God, we will inherit the riches of His love and our eternal home in heaven. All of these blessings are ours not because of any merit of our own but simply because God has chosen us and given us the gift of His love. It really isn't odd that God chose the Jews, nor is it odd of Him to choose us. His fatherly love has reached out to embrace us according to His eternal plan!