Last week I began talking about St. Polycarp. His martyrdom is a historical reality. He died for one reason: his unyielding faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. However, Polycarp's well-recorded death is only one of many lives that were given to reveal and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. Considering the cruel and torturous deaths of Christians of the first three centuries, all theories that Christianity is a fabricated myth, created for the personal gain of its followers, must be rejected. Even today, many will die for a belief, but none will die for a lie.
God allows the deaths of His saints not because He is a helpless or indifferent Lord, but because their deaths are powerful declarations of the gift of life (eternal life) that is offered to us through the Person of Jesus Christ. Polycarp, like many other Christians to this day, was only able to die for Christ because he lived for Christ. His life was radically transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit: the worries, pains and fears of this world no longer bound him. Polycarp's life and death provides an inspirational example for all Christians. He gave his earthly life for Christ, and through his sacrifice, he gained eternal life.
Saint Irenaeus relates that he saw and heard Polycarp personally in lower Asia; he heard Polycarp tell that he had met with the apostle Saint John and others who had seen Jesus. Irenaeus also reports that Polycarp was converted to Christianity by apostles, was consecrated a bishop, and communicated with many who had seen Jesus.
With fraternal affection,
Fr. Homero C.