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MEMORIAL OF SAINT JUSTIN, MARTYR, JUNE 01, 2021



A Gospel according to Mt 5:13-19


Jesus said to his disciples:

"You are the salt of the earth.

But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?

It is no longer good for anything

but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world.

A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;

it is set on a lampstand,

where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds

and glorify your heavenly Father.


"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,

not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter

will pass from the law,

until all things have taken place.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments

and teaches others to do so

will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.

But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments

will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."


REFLECTION:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."


St. Justin was truly the salt of the earth. He was born in Flavia Neapolis, in modern day Israel, around 100-114 A.D. His parents were pagans and of Greek origin. They were wealthy and able to provide him with a first-class education. This thirst for knowledge led him to apply himself to the study of philosophy until his conversion to Christianity around the year 139.


St. Justin describes his conversion in his book "Dialogue with Trypho": As Justin was walking by the sea near the town of Caesarea, he met an old man who revealed the riches of the true Faith to him. The man told Justin about Jesus and the Hebrew prophets, and encouraged him to pray so that he would be able to understand the truth about God. Convinced of this as the one true Faith, he was baptized when he was around 30 years old and began teaching and writing about Christianity.


After his conversion, Justin continued to wear the type of cloak that Greek culture associated with the philosophers. Inspired by the dedicated example of other Catholics whom he had seen put to death for their faith, he embraced a simple and austere lifestyle even after moving to Rome.


Justin was most likely ordained a deacon, since he preached, did not marry, and gave religious instruction in his home. He is best known as the author of early apologetic works which argued for the Catholic faith against the claims of Jews, pagans, and non-Christian philosophers.


Several of these works were written to Roman officials, for the purpose of refuting lies that had been told about the Church. Justin sought to convince the rulers of the Roman Empire that they had nothing to gain, and much to lose, by persecuting the Christians. His two most famous apologetical treatises were "Apologies" and "Dialogue with Trypho."


In order to fulfill this task, Justin gave explicit written descriptions of the early Church's beliefs and its mode of worship. In modern times, scholars have noted that Justin's descriptions correspond to the traditions of the Catholic Church on every essential point.


Justin describes the weekly Sunday liturgy as a sacrifice, and speaks of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ. He further states that only baptized persons who believe the Church's teachings, and are free of serious sin, may receive it.


Justin also explains in his writings that the Church regards celibacy as a sacred calling, condemns the common practice of killing infants, and looks down on the accumulation of excessive wealth and property.


Justin explained to the pagans why they should not worship idols and revealed to them the mysteries of the true Faith. He traveled to other lands to debate publicly. He also wrote two open letters, The First Apology and The Second Apology, to the emperor Antonius Pius and his son, the philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. In these long, written arguments known as apologies, he explained and defended the Faith.


His first defense of the faith, written to Emperor Antonius Pius around 150, convinced the emperor to regard the Church with tolerance. In 167, however, persecution began again under Emperor Marcus Aurelius.


During that year Justin wrote to the emperor, who was himself a philosopher and the author of the well-known “Meditations.” He tried to demonstrate the injustice of the persecutions, and the superiority of the Catholic faith over Greek philosophy. Justin emphasized the strength of his convictions by stating that he expected to be put to death for expressing them.


He was, indeed, seized along with a group of other believers, and brought before Rusticus, prefect of Rome. A surviving eyewitness account shows how Justin the philosopher became known as “St. Justin Martyr.”


The prefect made it clear how Justin might save his life: “Obey the gods, and comply with the edicts of the emperors.” Justin responded that “no one can be justly blamed or condemned for obeying the commands of our Savior Jesus Christ.”


Rusticus briefly questioned Justin and his companions regarding their beliefs about Christ and their manner of worshiping God. Then he laid down the law.


“Hear me,” he said, “you who are noted for your eloquence, who think that you make a profession of the right philosophy. If I cause you to be scourged from head to foot, do you think you shall go to heaven?”


“If I suffer what you mention,” Justin replied, “I hope to receive the reward which those have already received, who have obeyed the precepts of Jesus Christ.”


“There is nothing which we more earnestly desire, than to endure torments for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he explained. “We are Christians, and will never sacrifice to idols.” Justin was scourged and beheaded along with six companions who joined him in his confession of faith.


St. Justin Martyr is the patron of philosophers, apologists, and lecturers.


God bless y'all!


*** Article Source Catholic News Agency

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