Friday, January 2, 2014

Memorial of Saint Basil and Saint Gregory Naziazen, bishops and doctors of the Church

(I John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28)

Today we honor two giants of Eastern Christianity – Saints Basil and Gregory  Nazianzen.  These bishops, who were the best of friends, took up the fight against the persistent heresy of Arianism.  This distortion of Christian belief teaches that Christ was not really God but of a different nature, more than human yet not wholly divine like the Father.

Arianism is but one of many attempts to understand who Jesus is.  The readings today hint at others.  In the first reading John the Elder signals as equality between God the Father and God the Son when he writes, “…whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.”  John the Baptist in the gospel betrays a rudimentary knowledge of the coming Messiah, who has not yet come on the scene, as he says, “’(his) sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.’”

A cousin of Arianism has reappeared in our time.  We see it in the homogenization of religion which considers each faith tradition as essentially equal to others.  In this formulation Jesus is not God but a prophet much like Moses and Mohammad.  Although this thinking appeals to many as brutes make religion the cause of war, it fails to comply with orthodox Christian belief.  We believe in Christ as we believe in God the Father.  He came to us as human so that communing with him, we share in God’s divine nature and inherit an eternal destiny.