From the editor: December 20, 2013

St. Ignatius
St. Ignatius

Today, December 20, is the commemoration of Ignatius of Antioch in Orthodox churches. Ignatius had known the Apostles in his youth, was a fellow-disciple with Polycarp of the Apostle John. He was also called Theopohoros—"God-bearer."

Sentenced to death for being a Christian, he was sent to Rome and eaten by lions in the Colosseum sometime between 98 and 112.

According to the Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church, the Emperor Trajan, while staying in Antioch on his way Armenia, initiated a local persecution of prominent Christians. He interrogated Bishop Ignatius: "So you are a disciple of the One crucified under Pontius Pilate, are you?"

"I am a disciple of Him who has nailed my sin to the Cross, and has trodden the Devil and his devices underfoot," the saint replied.

"Why do you call yourself God-bearer?"

"Because I carry the living Christ within me!"

"Therefore, let the living bearer of the Crucified One be taken in chains to Rome," the Emperor commanded, "there to be fed to the lions for the amusement of the people."

Ignatius said, "I carry the living Christ within me!" Like Paul, believed that "We have this treasure in earthen vessels...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifest in our bodies." (2 Cor. 4:7,10)

We will soon celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ. Ignatius and Paul testify that the "life of Jesus" was not meant to remain in the Manger or on the Cross, but to be carried by all the members of Christ's Body into the world. Jesus said, "I am the Vine, you are the branches." This is good news, for without him we cannot truly live, truly love. This is "news of a great joy, which shall be to all the people." This Vine grows to fill the whole earth! The Manger feeds the world.

We read that upon hearing the condemnation of Trajan, Ignatius was filled with joy, like Paul and so many martyrs. While you do not face lions, you may have joy, for you "carry the living Christ" within you!

You may have a merry Christmas enjoying family and friends and gifts; a merrier Christmas by returning thanks to God in worship and prayer for the Gift of Jesus; and the merriest Christmas of all by being a Christ-bearers through sacrificial love for family and friends, a living gift of Christ's love throughout the year. If nothing else, remember the bold words of Ignatius of Antioch: "Because I carry the living Christ within me!" This is a blessing, a privilege.

—James M. Kushiner