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Authority came from the Church before there was a Bible

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Deacon Robert Banet

Ignatius if Antioch

What are you reading, Ollie?

It’s an ancient writer, Ignatius of Antioch.

Why on earth could that be of interest?

Oh, it’s about the early days of the Church, the problems they had and how they solved them.

Sounds kind of interesting.  What kind of problems?

Well, for one, there were preachers who were saying that you had to follow the old Jewish law of Moses and others that said Jesus was not a real man but only appeared to be so.  There had to be a way of telling the true from the false.
Ah.  Well, why didn’t they solve it looking it up in the Catechism or the Bible to clear up the matter?

That’s just the trouble. There was no Catechism or Bible in those days.

What! How could that be?  Wasn’t there always a Bible?

Well, yes and no.  There was always an Old Testament but that was of little help when it came to settling who Jesus was.  The official list, the canon, was far in the future.

Wait a minute.  What time in history are we talking about?

Well, Ignatius died in the year 105 and the first book of the New Testament had been written about fifty years before.

Well, there you are: they did have a Bible!

Hold on.  Yes, they may have had that letter of St. Paul but they also had many other works, competing works and it was hard to separate the authentic from the unauthentic.

I see.

So they had to rely on writers like Bishop Ignatius, who was a disciple of the apostles themselves to keep them on the right track.  That’s why we honor him.

I see.  Now I see why you’re so interested in those old books.  Was this Ignatius Catholic?

Yes.  In fact he was the first to use the word Catholic.

And when did you say he lived?

He was martyred for the faith in the year 105.

Glory to God.  I’m grateful to be of the same true faith as Ignatius.

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