It’s rather appropriate and challenging that the Church celebrates Saint Justin Martyr on my birthday.
Yes, I’m a philosopher by training, and one who, like Justin, likes Plato (though probably for different reasons.)
But I’m not yet a martyr – a witness to God made human, suffering and raised to life.
But I do find one statement of Justin in his first Apologia very challenging for me and for our world:
“Those who once rejoiced in fornication now delight in continence alone; . . . we who once took pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another and would not associate with people of different tribes because of [their different] customs, now after the manifestation of Christ live together and pray for our enemies and try to persuade those who unjustly hate us, so that they, living according to the fair commands of Christ, may share with us the good hope of receiving the same things [that we will] from God, the master of all.”
Today is also the anniversary of another martyr, a Colombian Jesuit who stood up for the poor in the face of violence. Padre Sergio Restrepo, SJ, was killed in Tierralta, Colombia, on June 1, 1989. Shortly before he was killed, in his final retreat, he wrote:
He was a navigator,
beached on solid ground.
He always searched for love
along the unknown paths
of the ineffable rose of the winds.
He believed in life.
He made friendship his motto.
His existence was a dream.
And, at his death,
he returned his soul to God
and returned to the earth
what the earth had given him:
an ephemeral name
and a handful of bones.
May I learn to live the witness of the martyrs – in every day of my life.