MEMORIAL OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, BISHOP AND MARTYR
Brothers and sisters:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.
As Jesus warns the Pharisees, we are amazed to realize that a person who seems to be doing all the right things on the outside - keeping up appearances - can actually be rotten on the inside. It is strange that we can believe that we can hide something from God when everything he made is completely visible to him. Even if we are able to fool others, we can never fool God.
Whether or not Jesus could change the mind or heart of a Pharisee, he spoke for our sake today. We must allow the Lord to reveal to us what is truly going on in our hearts. Is there greed of any sort? What do we truly desire? Is God the object of our love and worship? Are we blind to our deeper motivations or do we lie to ourselves? There is nothing we should hold back from God. We must not be afraid to face our worst selves because if we do not, we cannot present ourselves to God to be healed.
The antidote in the gospel message is to give alms. Alms will help us to say no to our carnal desires, and if we can make an honest evaluation of our misdeeds, proving that we have the courage to repent, we can make an offering that can benefit others.