Words from Blessed Polycarp
Today the Church commemorates Polycarp, bishop and martyr. He lived from the mid-first century to the mid-second century. His only surviving work is a letter, “Polycarp to the Philippians“. I’m fascinated by those from the earliest decades of the church, who embraced a glorious life not a glorious institution.
Here are Polycarp’s words on forgiveness. They’re very fitting for Lent.
For I am confident that you are well versed in the Scriptures, and from you nothing is hid; but to me this is not granted. Only, as it is said in these Scriptures, “Be ye angry and sin not,” and “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Blessed is the man who remembers this, and I believe that it is so with you. Now may God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the “eternal Priest” himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, build you up in faith and truth, and in all gentleness, and without wrath, and in patience, and in longsuffering, and endurance, and purity, and may he give you lot and part with his saints, and to us with you, and to all under heaven who shall believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his “Father who raised him from the dead.” “Pray for all the saints. Pray also for the Emperors,” and for potentates, and princes, and for “those who persecute you and hate you,” and for “the enemies of the Cross” that “your fruit may be manifest among all men, that you may be perfected” in him.
Good advice nineteen centuries ago, and good advice today.