Monday, June 1, 2009




Biographical Information about St. Justin

Readings for the Memorial of St. Justin

Readings and Commentary:

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved lit is the power of God.
For it is written:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.

Where is the wise one?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God
the world did not come to know God through wisdom,
it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation
to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Commentary on
1 Cor 1:18-25

St. Paul begins this selection refuting those who point to Christ’s crucifixion as proof of Jesus’ fallibility by saying that faith, graciously given by God allows the Christian to see the victory in what appears to the scoffers to be a defeat (“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”) St. Paul supports his premise by quoting
Isaiah 29:14 attacking the “wisdom of the wise”. He calls Jesus a stumbling block for the Jews (probably because they expected a Royal Messiah taking power like King David) and again foolishness for the rational gentiles (Greeks) who pride themselves in logic – the cross is not logical for a savior.

St. Paul concludes by telling the community “those who were called”, that it is God who acts in them giving them faith (see also
Romans 9:16) and that in the face of God’s omnipotence all the wisdom and strength of humanity pales in comparison.

CCC: 1 Cor 1:18 268; 1 Cor 1:24-25 272
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the Lord is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

R. The Lord delivered me from all my fears.
Commentary on
Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Psalm 34 is a song of thanksgiving and a favorite for celebrating the heroic virtue of the saints. The psalmist, fresh from the experience of being rescued (Psalm 34:5, 7), can teach the "poor," those who are defenseless, to trust in God alone. This psalm, in the words of one being unjustly persecuted, echoes hope for deliverance and freedom.

CCC: Ps 34:3 716; Ps 34:8 336
Matthew 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."

Commentary on
Mt 5:13-19

In this selection from the Gospel of Matthew Jesus uses allegory to push the Word of God into the world. He tells his disciples they are an integral part of the faith of the people in God. As seasoning is to food, so is the Word of God to the faith. They must remain steadfast so they do not loose that zeal for God that is the taste of that seasoning. It is that which sets it apart.

He uses a second allegory, light, to provide still more direction. The light of faith will be seen by all because it is reflected in the actions of those who believe. That light serves to guide others to God where they may otherwise become lost in darkness and wander in to paths of desolation. That light that pours from the disciples will be seen as a gift not from them but from the Father, and the Father will be glorified because of the light.

Those who believed that Jesus came to destroy the Jewish faith and laws are refuted in the next part of the passage. The Lord tells them that he did not come to destroy the Law of Moses even though he disagreed with the way some of those laws were being implemented. Rather he came to fulfill it, essentially give the law a reinterpretation through his own revelation.

CCC: Mt 5:13-16 782, 2821; Mt 5:14 1243; Mt 5:16 326; Mt 5:17-19 577, 592, 1967; Mt 5:17 2053

St. Justin, also known as Justin the Philosopher, was martyred during the rule of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, about the year 167 according to Butler’s lives of saints. Other sources place the date three years earlier in 164. Regardless of the date, his scourging and beheading at the hands of Rusticus, prefect of Rome at the time, is well documented. In those early years, this former student of Plato and convert to Christianity, which he saw as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Prophets, provided through his surviving apologetic works a wonderful description of the sacraments including the Eucharist (rare in those early years). He is quoted as describing the Eucharistic meal in this way (again according to Butler’s):

"No one," says he, "is allowed to partake of this food but he that believes our doctrines to be true, and who has been baptized in the laver of regeneration for remission of sins, and lives up to what Christ has taught. For we take not these as common bread and common drink; but like as Jesus Christ our Savior, being incarnate by the word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so are we taught that this food, by which our flesh and blood are nourished, over which thanks have been given by the prayers in his own words, is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus."

For his steadfast witness in the face of certain torture and death, as well as his brilliant apologies, we recognize him on his memorial as one whose search for the truth lead him to the kingdom of heaven where he rejoices with all the saints. His bold proclamation of the faith follows as a great example of the lived Gospel recorded in St. Matthew – “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.”

We pray today for his intercession; may we who are the followers of the same tradition of faith be as courageous as he and his companions when our time of trail comes. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through his gift of the Holy Spirit, give us the strength to stand with him as a beacon of truth to the world.


[1] The icon is St. Justin, Martyr, Iconifer and date are UNKNOWN 
[2] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only. 
[3] Butlers Lives of Saints, @ Harmony Media, Inc., Salem, Oregon

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