23rd February – St Polycarp, Martyr

Polycarp burningToday is the memorial of the martyr St Polycarp (+155) who was probably a disciple of St John the Evangelist. In the Office of Readings is a very moving and serene speech he makes before being burned alive in the city stadium. We can all wonder at how recollected and calm we would be in such circumstances!

The following reflection by Dr Micha Jazz of Premier Christian Media addresses this issue. It is based on Luke’s account of the Road to Emmaus: “As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them.” (24:15)

I can remember one of the hardest aspects of being Katey’s carer [during her MS illness] was the experience of isolation and loneliness. I was facing something completely new and something for which I felt both ill-prepared and ill at ease with. That left a lot of time to think, and thoughts were often tinged with an edge of anger, feeling hard done by, and incompetence.

In much the same way, these two disciples leaving Jerusalem were confused and deeply saddened by the events they had witnessed with the termination of Jesus’ mortal life. No doubt their hearts were heavy as they made their way to Emmaus. Then a stranger falls into step alongside them and listens to their questions and concerns, and engages in dialogue with them.

As I rise from my chosen moments of quiet and enter into my day’s activity, I invite Jesus to accompany me in the way he walked alongside those disciples on the Emmaus Road. I carry questions, disappointments and fears. Any or all of these can be fanned into flame at a moment’s notice. My reaction will reveal instantly where my heart is. Am I rested in Jesus and therefore able to live with the complexities of life, where circumstance may not accord with my preference? Or do I react and reveal that I am in turmoil within, apparently a long way from the friendship with the God I profess so confidently? Behaviour is a sure sign of how closely I am walking alongside Jesus.

QUESTION: How do you respond when things seem to be stacking up against you during the day?

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me keep in step with you throughout this day.