Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs tells the story of Justin and four other Christians who were arrested in Rome for the crime of following Christ. Taken before the Roman prefect Rusticus, the account of their resistance and death matched a pattern repeated thousands of times in the early Church:

“RUSTICUS-’What kind of literature and discipline do you profess?

JUSTIN-’I have tried every kind of discipline and learning, but I have finally embraced the Christian discipline, how little soever esteemed by those who were led away by error and false opinions.’

RUSTICUS- ‘Wretch, art thou then taken with that discipline?’

JUSTIN-’Doubtless I am, because it affords me the comfort of being in the right path.’

RUSTICUS-’What are the tenets of the Christian religion?’

JUSTIN-’We Christians believe one God, Creator of all things visible and invisible; and we confess our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, foretold by the prophets, the Author and Preacher of salvation, and the Judge of mankind.” The prefect inquired in what place the Christians assembled. Justin replied, “Where they please, and where they can: God is not confined to a place: as he is invisible, and fills both heaven and earth, he is everywhere adored and glorified by the faithful.’

RUSTICUS-’Tell me where you assemble your disciples.’

JUSTIN-’I have lived till this time near the house of one called Martin, at the Timothin baths. I am come a second time to Rome, and am acquainted with no other place in the city. If any one came to me, I communicated to him the doctrine of truth.’

RUSTICUS-’You are then a Christian?

JUSTIN-’Yes, I am.’

Then the prefect addressed himself again to Justin in this manner: ‘Hear you, who are noted for your eloquence, and think you make profession of the right philosophy, if I cause you to be scourged from head to foot, do you think you shall go to heaven?’

Justin replied, “If I suffer what you mention, I hope to receive the reward which those have already received who hare observed the precepts of Jesus Christ.”

Rusticus said, “You imagine then that you shall go to heaven, and be there rewarded.”

The martyr answered, ‘I do not only imagine it, but I know it; and am so well assured of it, that I have no reason to make the least doubt of it.’

The prefect seeing it was to no purpose to argue, bade them go together and unanimously sacrifice to the gods, and told them that in case of refusal they should be tormented without mercy.

Justin replied, ‘there is nothing which we more earnestly desire than to endure torments for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; for this is what will promote our happiness, and give us confidence at his bar, where all men must appear to be judged.’ To this the rest assented, adding, ‘Do quickly what you are about. We are Christians, and will never sacrifice to idols.’”

No comments: