Stand Fast

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Stand Fast
St. Polycarp (d. 156)

Christianity had been in existence only a little over a hundred years when Polycarp was made bishop of Smyrna, a city in Turkey which is now Ismir. Actually, he was a disciple of St John, the Apostle, and a good friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Polycarp lived in what is known as the sub-apostolic age, that is the age of persons who knew the Apostles.   In that age a variety of interpretations of the sayings of Jesus were being preached.  Polycarp’s role became to authenticate orthodox teachings and he did this through his connection with St. John the Apostle, who is said to have ordained him. There was persecution of Christians during that time and they needed a leader to proclaim the faith and show them how to live during this time.  Polycarp was like a shepherd to his flock and ended up laying down his life for them.   He was brought to a crowded stadium in Smyrna and it was intended to burn him alive but the flames did not harm him.  He was then killed with a dagger.  Before he was put to death, he was given an opportunity to renounce his faith.  He replied

"Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt."

He wrote many letters but only the one he wrote to the Church of Phillippi, in Macedonia, has been preserved.  This is a quote from it expressing his message to his “sheep”—and to us

“Stand fast, therefore, .. and follow the example of the Lord.  Be firm and unchangeable in faith,
lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth, helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man

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