Feast of Sts Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors
1 John 2:22-28
Today’s first reading, a passage from the first Letter of John, puts us immediately into the cauldron of the Arian Century (4th Century). Although not written at that time, nor for that purpose, the admonitions in the first Letter of John are pointedly relevant for a church beset by heresy and by the adherence of the political powers, the Emperors of the Roman Empire, to that heresy.
Arianism alleged an inferior status of the second Person of the Blessed Trinity to God the Father. Only God the Father is eternal and perfectly divine. Jesus, although exalted, and brought into being prior to the creation of the universe, is still secondary to the Father.
In the first Letter of John, and probably in response to the anticipation of the trials (the "antichrist", "those who would deceive you") that would beset the faithful believers who awaited the second coming of Christ, the church is asked to remain faithful, to hold fast to the truths which have been revealed by the Holy Spirit of God, God’s "anointing".
As the generations passed, the admonition was still valid, and remains so for us today: be confident in our belief, acknowledge the unity of the Blessed Trinity as the life-giving presence of God among us; "remain in him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming."
Both St. Basil the Great (329-379) and St. Gregory Nazianzen (329-390) had to confront the power of the Arian heresy in their respective dioceses; they both held strong against the efforts of the Arian emperor, Valens, to promote Arianism in the Empire. Following the death of the emperor Valens, they both worked to rebuild the faith of their flocks (Basil in Caesarea, and Gregory in Constantinople).
Today’s Gospel reading from John reminds us that there will always be a curiosity about Jesus Christ. It was there at the time of John the Baptist’s preaching and baptizing, it would continue through the public life of Christ, and it would culminate, in Jesus’ lifetime, on the stage of our redemption, on the cross of Calvary: "If you really are the Son of God…" Not everyone was able to grasp the answer that they received. Some simply "up and went".
We believe that Jesus is the Christ. Let us pray today to live the life of Christ in the daily actions of working, homemaking, studying, keeping company, and relaxing. May the light of Christ shine through us and into the shadows and recesses that need his light.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo is the local leader of the Passionist Community in Houston, Texas.