17Oct 17th October. Saturday of Week 28

Saint Ignatius of Antioch (see below)

1st Reading: Romans 4:13, 16-18

Hoping against hope, Abraham became the father of many nations, believing in the life-giving power of God

For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”

Gospel: Luke 12:8-12

Do not worry about defending yourselves. The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what to say

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before he angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”


Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr.

Ignatius (c. 50-107) was leader of the church in Antioch after Saint Peter. Sentenced to death during the persecution under Trajan, he went as a prisoner to Rome where he suffered martyrdom in the amphitheatre in 107. On his way to Rome he wrote a series of inspirational letters to various local churches, commending them to be faithful to Christ and to remain united under their local bishop.

Our Forefather in Faith

Abraham’s hoping against hope, must have seemed odd, even to Sarah his wife. Who would ever think that this elderly couple would not only be the source of a great nation? A person without Abraham’s faith would call this man’s hope simply “ridiculous.” When a situation turns out to be humanly hopeless, we should recall Abraham and Sarah. Such situations calling for radical decision come often enough in individual lives, and within history too.

Paul calls us to “look to Abraham and to Sarah,” so that the Lord may have pity on all our ruins and turn our desert existence into a paradise like Eden. Abraham himself never witnessed how marvellous this promised fertility would be. He saw only his son Isaac. In a way, Abraham’s faith had to reach beyond death to the resurrection of the dead. For this reason Jesus appeals to the example of Abraham for belief in the resurrection.

People closely united to Jesus realize how disastrous is a word spoken against the Holy Spirit, who is God’s personal presence with us, to inspire us with courage and vision at any moment of crisis. “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.


Bearing witness

The gospel has Jesus calling his disciples to be courageous in bearing witness to him, in declaring themselves for him in the presence of others. He also promises them that in bearing witness to him they won’t be left to their own resources. Rather, as Jesus says, when the time comes the Holy Spirit will teach them what they must say. Declaring ourselves for the Lord today can be difficult because of the climate in which we live which is so often hostile to faith and religion, and our Catholic faith in particular. It is easy to become discouraged when there is so much hostile and negative press around. We can easily be cowed into silence and invisibility. The gospel today suggests that we must work to resist that temptation. It calls on us to declare ourselves for the Lord publicly and it promises help in doing that, the help of the Holy Spirit. As Paul says, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We need to keep on praying for a daily Pentecost in our lives so that we have the courage to declare for the Lord who himself had the courage to declare for God his Father even though it meant having to submit to death on a cross. [Martin Hogan]

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