Saturday, April 14, 2012

Justin Martyr

Justin was born around 100 (both his birth and death dates are approximate) at Flavia Neapolis (ancient Shechem, modern Nablus) in Samaria (the middle portion of Israel, between Galilee and Judea) of pagan Greek parents. He was brought up with a good education in rhetoric, poetry, and history. He studied various schools of philosophy in Alexandria and Ephesus , joining himself first to Stoicism, then Pythagoreanism, then Platonism, looking for answers to his questions.

While at Ephesus, he was impressed by the steadfastness of the Christian martyrs, and by the personality of an aged Christian man whom he met by chance while walking on the seashore. This man spoke to him about Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises made through the Jewish prophets. Justin was overwhelmed. "Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul," he writes, "and a love of the prophets and those who are friends of Christ possessed me." Justin became a Christian, but he continued to wear the cloak that was the characteristic uniform of the professional teacher of philosophy. His position was that pagan philosophy, especially Platonism, is not simply wrong, but is a partial grasp of the truth, and serves as "a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." He engaged in debates and disputations with non-Christians of all varieties, pagans, Jews, and heretics. He opened a school of Christian philosophy and accepted students, first at Ephesus and then later at Rome. There he engaged the Cynic philosopher Crescens in debate, and soon after was arrested on the charge of practicing an unauthorized religion. (It is suggested that Crescens lost the debate and denounced Justin to the authorities out of spite.) He was tried before the Roman prefect Rusticus, refused to renounce Christianity, and was put to death by beheading along with six of his students, one of them a woman. A record of the trial, probably authentic, is preserved, known as The Acts of Justin the Martyr.

Propers for Justin Martyr - Philosopher, Apologist and Martyr.

The Collect.

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst find thy martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and didst reveal to him the sublime wisdom of thine eternal Word: Grant that all who seek thee, or a deeper knowledge of thee, may find and be found by thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle - 1 Corinthians 1:18-30.

BRETHREN: the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption

The Gospel - St Luke 12:1-8.

AT that time: Jesus said unto his disciples: Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.

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