In an age of persecution when the Church sought to keep itself to itself, St. Justin stands out as a man brave enough to speak the truth. St. Justin is honoured as the Church’s first apologist and he wrote several important books which give us first hand information about the life and worship of the early Church. Before he was condemned to death for being a Christian Justin was asked: If you are killed do you suppose you will go to heaven? Justin said: I do not suppose it, but I know and am fully persuaded of it. St. Justin was beheaded in the year 165 and went gladly to be with the Truth he had longed for all his life.
The Book of Tobit tells the story of an Israelite living in the pagan city of Nineveh. Exiled to this foreign land, along with his family and friends, Tobit remains true to his God, his heritage, and his faith under extreme circumstances.
And even though Tobit may have every reason to become bitter he refuses to curse God. Despite all his troubles he remains faithful. For this reason, Tobit is considered one of the great heroes of the Jewish tradition—a hero of faith who stands even today as an example for all of us to imitate.
Our Catholic tradition is filled with all kinds of heroes and heroines of the faith. It’s a wonderful thing to have so many models to look up to. But heroes don’t exist only among our great saints and our revered legends. Day in and day out, everyday men and women embrace the challenge of the Gospel and give generously of themselves for God and his people. And we can count ourselves among that number because each of us, in our own way, takes part in God’s work of redemption in our world. From the least to the greatest, we all have our part to play. Those who manage to make the headlines couldn’t do it without an army of hidden collaborators working behind the scenes.
God calls all of us to some form of heroism. Tobit was just another Jew in Nineveh, but he rose above the limitations of his surroundings and he did great things for God. We can do the same, because all things are possible with God.