Saint Polycarp

Observed as a Commemoration

Today we honour the memory of Saint Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle Saint John.  Along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers.  Early records state that Saint Polycarp served Christ for 86 years before being martyred in 155 at Smyrna, where he was bishop.

As teenagers, many of us turned a deaf ear to our parents’ advice.  But when we run into challenges down life’s road, we often find these pearls of wisdom echoing in our memory:  “A person is known by the company he keeps.”  “To have a friend, you must be a friend.”  “Planned deceit is a lie.”  “A stitch in time saves nine.”  “Think the best of each person.” “You’re never too busy to say thank you.”

The Apostles must have had a sim­ilar experience.  Our Lord said so many wise things, but not all of them made sense at first.  For example, it was only after Easter Sunday that they could understand that Our Lord’s death was exactly the medi­cine this sinful world needed.  They must have spent hours and hours together recalling the words that each of them remembered and discussing the meaning that was becoming clear as they struggled to put into practice Our Lord’s teaching.

It’s never too late to heed the words of wisdom that echo in our memories.  Our Lord told his disciples: You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.  The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but who­ever humbles himself will be exalted.  Our Lord is always ready to teach us – but are we always ready to humble ourselves and listen?

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