Feast of St Justin, Martyr
St Justin was born at the beginning of the second century in the Samarian town of Nablus and would thus have been one step removed from the Apostle, i.e he would have been taught by disciples of the Apostles. By now the new faith was becoming established and this brought with it certain problems, one of which was what exactly did the new faith stand for. St Justin was one of the first to write down the teachings of Christianity and to show how it was different from the Roman pagan religions and also to try to show that it was not mere superstition but perfectly reasonable. Of his work two Apologies and his Conversation with Trypho survive. In one of the Apologies he gives a description of the Eucharist as celebrated at that time. When you read it you can see that the mass has changed very little from the first century. If we could understand the language we would have no bother going back and feeling quite comfortable at a Sunday service.
The gospel chosen the church for today's feast is from Matthew 5:-13-19 and concerns the disciples being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is an apt reading for Justin as he did so much to write down the early teaching of the church and to begin the development of theology. Justin knew that what Jesus taught was a light to the world and he proclaimed it as such. The gospel passage also talks about Jesus being the fulfillment of the Law. Justin wrote a lot about this showing how Jesus was the Messiah spoken about in the Old Testament. The teaching of Justin was developed later by the theologians but on all the important points of our faith there is very little difference between what Justin said and what the church teaches now. Justin's writing form part of what we call "the deposit of faith" and as such it has a lot to say about catholic teaching.
Justin was martyred about the year 165AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.