Imitation of Christ – Book 4, Ch.4-7, pt.1

This week we are continuing with Book IV of Thomas á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.  In meditations four and five, we come across two concepts that have a very ancient origin in the church – the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality” and the special dignity (or burden) of the priesthood.  Some of the earliest post-apostolic Christian writings we have are the letters of St. Ignatius.  St. Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch and was martyred in the Roman Coliseum under Emperor Trajan in c.107. (Legend tells us that he was also one of the children that Jesus bid come to him.)  On his way to Rome, he wrote a series of letters to the churches along the way.  At the end of his Letter to the Ephesians, he implores the congregation as follows:

Meet in common assembly in grace, every one of you, man by man, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, Who is according to the flesh of the stock of David, the Son of Man and Son of God, so that you may obey the bishop and the presbytery with a mind free from distraction; breaking one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote preserving us that we should not die but live forever in Jesus Christ.

As you begin preparation for this evening, pray through the meaning of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” As Jesus says: “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” John 6:51.  Also, pray through the nature of the priesthood.  Bishop Ignatius concludes his letter with the statement, “I am the least faithful (in Antioch), yet I have been privileged to serve God’s honor.”  This statement reflects Jesus’s own teaching to his disciples that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” Matt 20:26-27.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken potato casserole. Meditations at 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the  words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69

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