Time and time again, Our Lord cautions about those who can kill the soul. He is well aware that evil people can maim our bodies and take away our lives. And He knew full well that the Pharisees were plotting to kill him.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch lived 19 centuries ago, during a terrible time of persecution under the Roman Emperor Trajan. In one of the seven letters he wrote during the journey from Syria to Rome, he said to the Christians in Rome: “The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord, may I be ground by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ.” According to tradition, he arrived in Rome on December 20th, the very last day of the public games. He was taken immediately to the Coliseum where he was killed by the lions in the arena.
In Our Lord’s time the leaven that threatened body and soul was the hypocrisy of insincere religious leaders. In the time of Saint Ignatius it was the Roman Emperor Trajan. What or who is a dangerous leaven for us? Is it hypocrisy, passion, materialism, power, selfishness, greed? Are we good or bad leaven for others? Our Lord wants us to be like him. He wants us to have a good influence upon others. As we receive the bread of life in Holy Communion today, may the leaven of Our Lord’s spirit of truth, hope and love permeate our lives as yeast does bread, strengthening us for any trial.
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, pray for us.