Pathways through Lent

Lives of Integrity

Psalm 121 Numbers 23:5-12 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Matthew 20:20-23

Today is the feast day of St. Polycarp (born in A.D. 69), who was the bishop of Smyrna (today Izmir, Turkey). Polycarp is one of those church fathers who bridge the Biblical era of the apostles and the early years of the church.

He died as a martyr, burned at the stake for refusing to renounce his Christianity. Tradition records him as saying “Eighty-six years I have served [my God]. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” St. Polycarp used both his words and his actions to create a life of integrity—which he maintained even onto death.

In the reading today from I Corinthians, St. Paul also speaks of creating a life of integrity in both words and actions. St. Paul’s faith wasn’t just composed of words that seemed plausibly wise; instead, his faith was composed of real actions and commitments that testified to the power of God.

As we move toward Easter, I think about heroes of faith like St. Paul and St. Polycarp. Their beliefs guided their actions, and their lives were courageous testaments to the faith that they held so dear. Their lives of integrity are an inspiration.

This Lent, may we all follow the examples of these men, matching our good intentions and beliefs with actions to create lives of integrity—and, like St. Paul and St. Polycarp, testify to the power of God.

–Jack Reiffer

February 23

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