Today is the memorial of one of those obscure Martyrs, Ignatius of Antioch, whom we know very little about. What we have is a series of writing which were supposedly inspired on his trek to be executed. These texts deliver an insight into Ignatius' own holiness, and the understanding of the theology of the cross by the early Christians. It would seem that the Paschal event had this great great focus in the lives of those early men and women of faith.
While our theology does speak to that today, most of the theological giants of the first few centuries insisted that the celebration of the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, take center stage in the daily struggles of life. True discipleship is the understanding of seeking the ways of God first, considering our place with God, and then the cares and concerns of others, then ourselves last. To be a disciple really is about being faithful to our Baptismal promises a well as finding joy in our service for one another.
When we talk about the theology of stewardship we really are talking about being a disciple. We receive God's gifts with joy. We nurture and nourish these gifts, so that they can grow. We share the gifts of God with justice and love for the benefit of all of God's people. And then we return the gifts of God to Him with increase. This is a bit more than time, talent, and treasure; it is the embracing the cross so that in dying we might have life.
Ignatius is one of many holy men and women who gladly 'pour out' their lives for the goodness of all people. We had a missionary here a few weeks ago, for the annual mission appeal, who spoke about courageous men and women who minister in difficult and dangerous situations in Africa. To be sure simply being true to our faith can be difficult but perhaps not as dangerous.
If we really believe what we are professing, and in the bread and wine made the Body and Blood of Christ, then our lives have to become different. Most of us are probably not called to martyrdom, but we are called to be faithful to the Paschal Mystery. Our Church life is not about 'pray, pay, and obey.' The Lord of life invites us to the cross and to new life.