Death, Faith, and Pure Light
God – the eternal light – is both the source and the summit of all existence. This is not only the key to understanding the meaning of all human life, but also the proper focus of it. Think about it like this. God exists. He alone created the universe and all of us. Nothing - no evil, no human plan, no nothing anywhere ever - can overcome God or change His love and/or His will for us.
This truth was revealed to St. John the Theologian, and he taught it this way. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:1-5).
So, what does this truth look like in terms of living and practicing faith? St. Ignatius, who was the spiritual son of John the Theologian and later became the third bishop of Antioch, lived a life bathed in the light of Christ. His faith was so real, authentic, and complete that he was known as "Theophóros" or God-bearing. In fact, he never relented in faith, even when he was about to be killed for it. In his letter to the Romans, which he wrote while awaiting his execution, Ignatius focuses on how death will allow him "to obtain pure light."
"All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing. It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth. ‘For what shall a man be profited, if he gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?’ Him I seek, who died for us: Him I desire, who rose again for our sake. This is the gain which is laid up for me. Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me from living, do not wish to keep me in a state of death; and while I desire to belong to God, do not give me over to the world. Allow me to obtain pure light: when I have gone there, I shall indeed be a man of God. Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God. If anyone has Him within himself, let him consider what I desire, and let him have sympathy with me, as knowing how I am straitened" (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans, Ch. 6).
While God gave us the gift of life, of a body, and of an earthly home, the fullness of existence is bathing in God's light for eternity. Ignatius knew this – and teaches us today – that the desire for true faith and true life comes from and leads to God who is the pure light.
Let us pray for one another that we have the kind of faith that comes from focusing on the pure light of God. To donate to the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Monastery, please use this direct link https://www.powr.io/checkout_screen?unique_label=1a900384_1585410263 or the PayPal button at the bottom of our homepage: Orthodox Monastery Monteagle Tennessee (monteaglemonastery.org).
Icon of the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch (painted before XVII c.). Source: http://days.pravoslavie.ru/Images/ii897&3009.htm