Monday, January 2, 2017

Memorial of Saints Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors of the Church

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

The saints celebrated today, Basil and Gregory, worked in a time of great theological controversy.  Although the Council of Nicea proclaimed Christ as Son of God and coeternal with the Father, many Christians believed that the proposition contradicted monotheism.  Even some of those who accepted the Nicene Creed had distorted ideas about how Jesus was both God and human.  There was also the question of how the Holy Spirit related to the Father and the Son.  These questions were similar to the ones asked in today’s readings.

It is not certain what John, the presbyter, has in mind when he condemns those who deny the Son.  But it likely has something to do with Jesus’ divinity.  Likewise, the gospel reading seems to be directed toward a Christological question: was John the Baptist or Jesus the Messiah of Israel?  The answers given to these inquiries, implied in each reading, are formative as we begin another year, another milestone in history.

Many look to Jesus as only a great teacher whose wisdom deserves consideration.  We, however, profess him to be the final word of a loving God.  Through his death and resurrection his Father imparts to us his Spirit.  This gift leads us outside the narrow confines of self-interest into the wonders of God’s love.  Here we find the fullness of life that overcomes even death.  Each day of this new year we look forward to delving more deeply into this mystery.