Thursday, 23 February 2017 : 7th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard a very clear call through the Sacred Scripture passages, for us to repent from our sinfulness, reject our wayward path of life, and make a turnaround to follow the Lord our God with all our heart and strength, following Him with all sincerity and commitment. This is what the Lord had called us all to do, and we really should go and listen to what He had said.

Sin is something that had become a difficult and persistent stumbling block on our path, which is due to our disobedience and refusal to obey to the Lord and His ways. And all of these were born from our own human sense of pride, of arrogance and greed, as the prophet Sirach mentioned in our first reading today, as a series of warnings for us, not to be haughty and be overconfident, thinking that nothing can harm us.

Indeed, while God loves each and every one of us, but sin is one thing that God does not love from us. Truly, sin is an abomination in His sight, and it is because of our sins that we have suffered the consequences of those sins. We have been sundered from the grace of God, and because of that, we should have fallen into hell, and we should have faced the consequences for sin, that is death and eternal suffering, an eternity of suffering and despair out of which their is no hope for escape.

That is why the Lord sent His many messengers, prophets and servants to help guide His people, that is all of us, so that as many as possible among them might be saved. And we know just so much that God loves us to the point that He did the most extraordinary thing of all, that is to give His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the Divine Word of God, to us as our Saviour and our Hope.

Through Jesus His Son, God had revealed to us the importance for us to reject sin, as we heard it in the Gospel passage today. Jesus was speaking about maintaining the purity of our beings, our hearts, minds and all things, also in our physical bodies and flesh alike. But we must be careful not to misunderstand and misinterpret what He had said, as we cannot take things literally as He had said.

Why is that so? That is because certainly each and every one of us have been tempted through our various senses and parts of our bodies, and if we really literally follow through what Jesus had said, then just imagine how many people out there would be blinded or with just one eye, disabled and debilitated, with no arms or with no legs, just because we misunderstood the true intention of the Lord.

What the Lord wanted from us is for us to resist the temptations to sin, to restrain ourselves and not to give in to the pressure either from the outside or from the inside to sin. It is part of our nature to experience that desire and the temptation to sin and commit things that are not in accordance with what the Lord had taught us, but we ourselves are also able to consciously reject the advances of those temptations, and rebuke Satan and all of his attempts to subvert us to sin.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is where we really need to be prepared and we cannot be lax in our spiritual discipline. We cannot be like those who think that they have all the time in the world, and that they are free to enjoy the world and all of its goodness in whatever ways they like, even if in the process they fall into debauchery and wickedness.

We need to prepare ourselves, as when the Lord comes to seek the reckoning for each one of us, at the timing that He alone knows, then we must be prepared. Certainly, I am sure that we do not want to regret when the time of reckoning comes, and we end up among those whom God will condemn and reject, as sinners and wicked people.

Perhaps, it would be good for us to follow in the footsteps of St. Polycarp, the holy saint whose feast we are celebrating today. St. Polycarp was one of the disciples of the Apostles St. John who was one of the bishops of the early Church, whose contributions was crucial for the foundation and the strengthening of the early Church and the early Christian communities.

It was told that he was a convert to the faith, and he devoted his whole life to the service of the Church and God’s people, even though there were many difficulties facing the faithful people of God, due to the opposition and persecution by the state against the Christian faith. Eventually he was arrested and tortured, given a choice between betraying his faith and living, and standing by his faith and dying in painful agony.

St. Polycarp was not deterred by that temptation to abandon the Lord and preserve himself. Rather, he proclaimed courageously his faith in God before all those who were present at his trial, and stood by his faith among all the other people who had been arrested with him for their faith. As the shepherd of the flock, he had shown good examples for his people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we should emulate the good examples of St. Polycarp in our own daily life. Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord, reject all forms of sin and temptations, so that we may grow ever closer to God and find our way to Him. May all of us draw closer to God and be reconciled with Him, through our actions and deeds that show our faith to Him at all times. May God be with us all, and may St. Polycarp intercede for us sinners. Amen.

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