The second reading for Matins for today is taken from The First Apology of St Justin Martyr. St Justin Martyr, one of the Church Fathers, lived during the period A.D. 100 to A.D. 165 and I find his writing amazing precisely because it is so close in time to the actual lifetime of our Lord Jesus and the Apostles.
In our current times, when people seem to be trying to manipulate and challenge everything that the Church teaches, it is absolutely refreshing to hear aspects of our Faith expressed so simply and so clearly, by someone who lived in a period that was so very close to that of our Lord and the Apostles, when the teaching of Jesus was still so fresh in the mind of everyone.
This is a part of this mornings reading: (My emphasis underlined)
“No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.”[i]
How far have we strayed over the last 2000 odd years?
Today so many people publicly declare that they do not believe what the Church believes on a variety of subjects and that they do not therefore live their lives according to the Church’s teaching. Yet, these same people continue to receive Holy Communion, inferring that it is in fact the Church, who is at fault, not them as individuals.
I think that we must be careful to remember these important words of St Justin Martyr:
“We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink … becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.”[ii]