Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paul, Polycarp, & Phillipians

Another nifty thing about today's Office of Readings, (the absolute best hour of the liturgy which no one ever has time for), is that the two readings are both letters to the Phillipians.

But only one is by St. Paul.

The other is a non-scriptural letter to the Phillipians by St. Polycarp.  Tradition tells us that Polycarp was a disciple of St. John the Apostle. So he wasn't writing so very many years after Paul, who died in AD 69. Polycarp's  letter is thought to be composed between AD 110 and 140,

Just the very fact of their being additional, non-Pauline letters to the same Church community is itself a great reminder of the historic continuity of the Church in it's episcopal teaching authority.  Beyond that, Polycarp has some interesting things to say. For one thing, he gives some good indication that there should be NO dichotomy between faith and works. In the second paragraph, he says,
"This is the joy in which many wish to share knowing that it is by grace that you are saved and not by works, for so God has willed through Jesus Christ."

Got that?  Then he continues further down, "He who raised him from the dead will raise us too if we do his will and keep his commandments, loving what he loved, refraining form all wrongdoing, fraud, avarice, malice and slander..."

Obviously, to Polycarp, grace and works were not an either/or thing. I'm not a professional apologist, so I'll end my commentary here.

Time for a Sunday drive in the country. See you tomorrow.