Ignatius of Antioch was one of the first Christian leaders after the Apostles. Like the Apostles, his letters to various communities are famous. He has his letters to the Ephesians and Romans, just like Paul.
Much of his theological language centered around faith as medicine. He gave language to the physician like vocation Christ has on our lives.
In his letter to the Ephesians he writes
There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible, even Jesus Christ our Lord. —
For Ignatius, Christ was the perfect physician not because he was God but because he was a God who humbled himself and became human.
Like any good healer, Christ did not do his work remotely but hand to hand, skin to skin, flesh to flesh.
But our Physician is the Only true God, the unbegotten and unapproachable, the Lord of all, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son. We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.” Being incorporeal, He was in the body, being impassible, He was in a passible body, being immortal, He was in a mortal body, being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.
The incarnation of the God’s word fade flesh, Jesus, gives us a chance.
Jesus’ life on Earth shows us that we have a way. It shows us that through baptism into his death we also have a share in his life.
Have you had enough medicine for today?
Ignatius stressed the value of the Eucharist, calling it a “medicine of immortality”
I feel like that puts us in our place.
When we take the Eucharist, we don’t take it as a pietistic ritual so that we might look down our noses at those who don’t. Rather, take it as the needy sin sick infirmed, begging that we might receive healing from his pain and wholeness in his wounds.
Tomorrow is St. Luke’s day, another day when we remember Christ as physician.
Maybe in this little season of healing, meditate on this:
Christ loves you so much that he pursued you into a world of crime, violence, corruption and disease.
The next time you find yourself in a place of sickness, like a doctor’s office, a hospital room, or a hospice bed know this:
This is a place where Christ promised he would be. We do ourselves no favors pretending he’s not with us in our pain. In fact, acknowledging that Christ came not for the righteous well but for the sin sick might be where the real healing starts. AMEN