SAINT POLYCARP, BISHOP AND MARTYR (D-155)
He was a disciple of the Apostles. He bears witness to the beliefs of the early Christians and the early stages of the development of doctrine. He was martyred in about 155.
This holy man fought to the death for the law of his God and did not fear the words of the godless, for he was built on solid rock.
God of all creation, who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant, through his intercession, that, sharing with him in the chalice of Christ, we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Hebrews 11:1-7
Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended. It is by faith that we understand that the world was created by one word from God, so that no apparent cause can account for the things we can see. It was because of his faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and for that he was declared to be righteous when God made acknowledgement of his offerings. Though he is dead, he still speaks by faith. It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken up and did not have to experience death: he was not to be found because God had taken him. This was because before his assumption it is attested that he had pleased God. Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who try to find him. It was through his faith that Noah, when he had been warned by God of something that had never been seen before, felt a holy fear and built an ark to save his family. By his faith the world was convicted, and he was able to claim the righteousness which is the reward of faith.
Psalm 144(145):2-5, 10-11
R/ I will bless your name for ever, O Lord.
1)I will bless you day after day and praise your name for ever. The Lord is great, highly to be praised, his greatness cannot be measured.
2) Age to age shall proclaim your works, shall declare your mighty deeds, shall speak of your splendour and glory, tell the tale of your wonderful works.
3) All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, and your friends shall repeat their blessing. They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might, O God.
Gospel Acclamation: Ps 147:12, 15
Alleluia, alleluia!O praise the Lord, Jerusalem! He sends out his word to the earth. Alleluia!
Gospel: Mark 9:2-13
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus. As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean. And they put this question to him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True,’ he said ‘Elijah is to come first and to see that everything is as it should be; yet how is it that the scriptures say about the Son of Man that he is to suffer grievously and be treated with contempt? However, I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him.’
Prayer over the Offerings
Sanctify our offerings by your blessing, O Lord, we pray, and by your grace may we be set afire with that flame of your love through which Saint Polycarp overcame every bodily torment. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Mt 16: 24
Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord.
Prayer after Communion
May the sacred mysteries of which we have partaken, O Lord, we pray, give us that determination which made your blessed Martyr Polycarp faithful in your service and victorious in suffering. Through Christ our Lord.
In today’s Gospel passage, Peter, James, and John are in for a real treat. Jesus invites just the three of them to accompany Him to a mountain top. Once they arrive, Jesus is “transfigured” before them. His clothes become white and brilliant. But that’s not all; Elijah and Moses appear also, brilliantly garbed, and Jesus begins talking with them. At this point, Peter, never lacking something to say, suggests that they erect tents. We can pray with this text according to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius as follows: looking at the detail of the scene, what can we see? How does it feel up there? Hot? Windy? Dusty? What do we hear? When the cloud comes and then the voice speaks from it, what is going on? As we replay the scene in our imagination, what place do we take? What’s our view? As the scene continues to play out, eventually we come down from the mountain. How do we feel? Relieved? Disappointed? Any new insights? Any surprises? How are we moved to pray as we end the experience?