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Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Polycarp, B.M. (23rd February, 2017) on the Gospel and the Memorial
(Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (I))

Sir 5:1-8;
Ps 1:1-4.6. (R. Ps 39:5);
Mk 9:41-50.
Saint Polycarp was a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. He was bishop of Smyrna. Saint Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the “gospel model” – not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God's will as Jesus did. All he asked of his captors after giving them a meal was an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had ever known and for the Church. The proconsul begged him unsuccessfully to deny his faith. He was finally tied up and set ablaze. But when his captors saw he wasn't being burned, they stabbed him. The date was about February 23, 156 at the age of 86.[1]
Topic: Helpers and problems.
Note that in some versions of the bible, verses 44 and 46 of today’s gospel are missing. This is because they are replications of verse 48, “where their worm never dies, and their fire is never quenched.”
Jesus said in today’s gospel, “For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.” Again,
If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
Jesus also warned all to remove whatever that will cause others to sin. Nothing is too much to sacrifice for the sake of life (heaven). Whoever fails to enter into life will be thrown into “hell, where their worm never dies, and their fire is never quenched.” Saint Polycarp understood this very well. Hence, he did not listen to the pleadings of the proconsul. About an hour of fire cannot be compared with the everlasting burning.
Saint John recorded these words, “‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!’” (Rev 14:13). Again, Saint Paul wrote, “...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2Cor 5:10).
Whoever despises the word of God brings destruction on him/herself, but those who respect them will be rewarded, cf. Prov 13:13. May we therefore listen to the word of God and be helpers and never problems to others.
Bible Reading: 2Cor 4:16–5:10.
Thought for today: You shall be rewarded, cf. 2Chr 15:7.
Let us pray: May God give us His grace to be helpers to everyone in need – Amen.
Saint Polycarp – Pray for us.

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