Wednesday, January 29, 2020

St. Ignatius the God-Bearer, the Child That Christ Presented as a Model for All

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to himself, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, such is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-4)

According to an ancient tradition, Saint Ignatius, the second Bishop of Antioch, was the child whom Christ took and presented to the apostles as the example of the one who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. From that day the child, who was most beloved by the Savior and favored with the divine embrace, was also marked as the one upon whom lions would feast in Rome. He did this because he loved Christ above all since he was a child.

Having been carried by our Savior as a child, Saint Ignatius as a grown man called himself Theophoros which means “God-Bearer”. Hence, he indicates to us that there must be a connection between being carried by God and carrying God within our hearts. Interestingly, the feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Ignatius is celebrated by the Church on January 29th, which is very close to the feast of the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple on February 2nd, at which the old man Saint Symeon the God-Receiver (Theodochos) carried the Christ Child in his arms. This reminds us that we must also be a Theophoros and a Theodochos, and it further reminds us that God the Son humbled Himself and became a Child to be allow Himself to be carried and received.