Saint Justin, Martyr

Today’s readings

The greatest men and women who have ever lived have followed the example of our Lord Jesus Christ in that they have been willing to give their lives for the truth, for what they believed in, for what is right. In our first reading, Tobit risks his life in order to give a fallen kinsman a proper burial. Tobit and his family had been exiled to Ninevah, and the people there were hostile to the Israelites. Their hostility was so noteworthy, that in another book, Jonah famously refuses to go there and instead gets swallowed up by a large fish. So Tobit has previously narrowly escaped execution for showing charity to his fellows in exile, and he ignores the obvious lesson in order to do what is right.

For Saint Justin, whose feast we celebrate today, he chose to stand up for the truth. He was born a pagan, and spent a good deal of his youth studying pagan philosophy, principally that of Plato. But he eventually found that Christianity answered the great questions of life and existence better than did the pagan philosophers, so he converted. He wrote famous apologies, defenses of the Christian faith, to the Roman emperor and to the senate. Because of his unwavering dedication to his faith, he was beheaded in Rome in the year 165.

“The just one shall be an everlasting remembrance,” says the Psalmist today. All of us are called to live our faith with conviction, as did Tobit and Saint Justin. We might never be in the dire straits in which they found themselves, but we too are called to give our lives, our comforts, our standing in the community, our reputation among our peers, for the faith. Today we pray for the grace to live what we believe and to be an everlasting remembrance.

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