Daily Gospel Reflection for February 23, 2019 - St. Polycarp


Reflection by Annette K. Tenny

Today’s Gospel: Mark 9:2-13 – St. Polycarp

Today’s reading tells us about the Transfiguration of Jesus. It’s recounted in Matthew and Mark with remarkable consistency. I love it for its immediacy and for its strangeness. It’s one of those passages that’s been written about extensively so it’s no great trial to delve into the theology, but it’s not the theology that resonates with me – it’s the weirdness.

Had I been standing on that mountain with Peter, James and John, I’m fairly certain I would have ended up prostrated on the ground in fear and awe right next to them. I’m also pretty sure I would have been the first to pop my head up to see what happens next. And just like them, I’m certain I would have had a ‘big head’ about the whole experience with just the barest inkling of understanding it.

I do have a lot of questions about the Transfiguration that theological treatises don’t begin to answer and they mostly have to do with us rather than the Lord.

“This is my beloved son”, God tells Peter, James and John. “Listen to him.”

God is clear as crystal, but the apostles struggled, and so do I. Why?

Today is also the feast day of St. Polycarp.

For Catholic kids, teens and young adults, the Fathers and Mothers of the earliest church are their religious ancestors. They belong to them and are linked to them with a bond much stronger than most of them realize. The Catholic Church is anything but disconnected from their lives, a complaint often leveled by teens and young adults.

St. Marcellina, St. Augustine, Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose and St. Polycarp are just a few of these early ancestors whose lives have much in common with young people today. They struggled with protecting and growing the Church bequeathed to them by Peter and Paul and the other apostles. They struggled with who Christ is and what it means to follow him.


Read about St. Polycarp today – then pass on what you’ve learned to a young person and ask this one question: Can we listen to Jesus as closely as St. Polycarp did?


O Lord, my God, help me to instill in the young people around me a love and desire for the knowledge of my earliest Catholic ancestors. Amen.

Copyright 2019 Annette K. Tenny

Annette K. Tenny is a freelance writer living in North Carolina. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for including Saint Polycarp in your reflection. When I was pregnant with my son, we at first jokingly called him Polycarp, but then the saint became more and more important in my life, and I would find myself praying through his intercession a lot. We lost my father-in-law on this day last year, and it’s really comforted me that he went to heaven on the feast of Saint Polycarp. While we didn’t end up naming our son Polycarp, I still smile each time I think of or pray to this special saint.

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