WHO REALLY IS THIS PERSON CALLED JUSTIN: A BRIEF EXPOSITION

SAINT
JUSTIN, EARLY CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST & MARTYR
(Feast day, June 1)

“When it comes to St. Justin, the obvious needs to be affirmed that names
have serious effects on an individual, and that I have seen in you…”
This was
part of the messages I received this morning from a friend who wished me a
happy feast day of my patron saint (Justin the apologist and martyr).
Today, the Holy Mother Church celebrates the memorial of St. Justin…
Who is this saint…? What do we know about him…?
I believe many persons have come across the name “Justin”,
and also, many are aware that he was a martyr of the early Church and an
apologist. The word “apologist” stems from the Greek word “apologia (ἀπολογία), meaning “to speak in return”, “defend
oneself” etc. It was a formal defense, either in response to prosecution
in a court of law or by extension as a literary mode. This word was imported into the Christian parlance and its meaning becomes obvious: “A person who argues in defense
or justification of his Christian faith”. This we see in the likes of
St. Paul, St. Peter, etc. Even in his first letter, Peter urged us “Be ready at
all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hop you have in you, but
do this in gentleness and respect” (cf. 1Pet. 3:15)

As a follow up, the name Justin springs
from the Latin name, which was derived from JUSTUS

Justin is an anglicized form
of the Latin given name Iustinus (Justinus), a
derivative of Justus; meaning Just; upright; righteous. Justin is known as one of the most important of the
Greek philosophers and apologists in the early Christian Church. His writings
represent the first positive encounter of Christian revelation with Greek philosophy
and laid the basis for theology of history. 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. He studied
all varieties of pagan wisdom – Stoicism, Pythagoreanism, and Platonism – until
his conversion to Christianity about the year 130 AD.

He describes his conversion in his famous book, “Dialogue” with Trypho: Justin was walking by the sea near the town of Caesarea,
when 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 and began teaching and writing about
Christianity.

Justin’s
first work seems to have been his Treatise Against all Heresies (now lost)… 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,
Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher. In these long, written arguments known as apologies,
Justin explained and defended the Faith. Justin’s essay begins with the demand
to investigate accusations and explains what Christians believe and do. Consequently, for defending the Christian faith
with strong zeal, Justin and five others were beheaded around the year 165 AD,
thus dying honourably for Christ as a martyr.
Today, St. Justin the martyr and apologist is
the patron of Christian philosophers, apologists, and lecturers. I join the Holy Mother Church in
celebrating this great saint of the early Church. I’m also grateful to God for
inspiring my lovely parents who chose the name Justin for me at infant baptism. I have
come to understand how strong and effective a name could be, especially if the
individual cooperates with the grace that comes with the name.
May St. Justin always be the inspiration behind
those who bear the name “Justin” and also to all lovers and apologists of the Christian faith…
Amen.
HAPPY FEASTDAY TO ME & ALL JUSTINs &
JUSTINAs etc.

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