Monday, 2 January 2017 : Weekday of Christmas Time, Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard about those who rejected the Good News of the Lord, those who also purposely led the others astray by the means of lies and false messages. It is a reminder to all of us that we can be easily deceived by wrong messages delivered by false prophets and agents of the devil designed to trick us and to bring us away from the salvation in God.

They have many ways to deceive and mislead us. Some will deny our Lord Jesus Christ while claiming that they serve the Lord and claiming that their way is the truth, while others will tweak the messages and teachings of God and made them to suit their own wicked purposes. And lest our faith is strong, we will easily fall prey into the hands of those who seek after our souls.

That is why we need to stand firm in our faith, by listening to what St. John the Apostle and Evangelist had said in his Epistle, our first reading passage today. He spoke of us all who have been anointed in the Lord’s Name, and indeed, we have also received the Holy Spirit from Him through the Church. We have therefore received the truth of God through what we have received by the Holy Spirit and taught unto us by the Church.

However, it is important that we should hold fast and firmly to these teachings lest the temptations and persuasions of those whom I mentioned, seeking to corrupt and derail our paths to the Lord, would lead us astray from the truth and from finding the way to the Lord and therefore towards our salvation in Him. We have to be strong and be devoted in all of our ways to God, so that we will not be easily swayed by all these.

Let us all look at the inspiring examples of the two great saints whose feast we are celebrating today, who are two of the most important figures and leaders of the Church in its early days particularly in the Eastern portion of Christendom at that time. St. Basil the Great, or also known as St. Basil of Caesarea was the Bishop of Caesarea during the fourth century after the birth of Christ. Meanwhile, St. Gregory Nazianzen was the Archbishop of Constantinople at roughly the same period of time as St. Basil.

Both of them were strong proponents and defenders of the orthodox and true faith as passed down through the Church from the Apostles and ultimately from our Lord Himself. And this was very crucial at that time, when the Church was greatly troubled for many years, and indeed many decades and centuries by the many false teachings, false prophets and all who sought to twist and corrupt the truth in order to serve their own purposes. And many people did fall into their heresies and were lost to the Lord.

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen were ardent defenders of the true faith, defending important tenets of our faith against those who claimed that Jesus Christ as the Son of God was not equal to God and was a mere creation, as espoused by the Arians. There were also those who claimed that because Jesus had a human body, therefore He was a lower being despite having a Divine soul, a view called the Apollinarian heresy. They defended the true faith, in which we believe that Jesus our Lord is both God and Man at the same time, and He is equal to the Father, having existed before all ages, begotten but not created by the Father.

There were many other false teachings that threatened the souls of many of the faithful and threatened to splinter the Church apart, but St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen fervently and tirelessly worked hard among their own flocks and also with the other faithful bishops, elders and priests of the Church, in order to stem the tide of heresy and to uphold the true faith.

They were influential in the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in the year 381 AD, and their teachings continued to influence the Church for many years to come, and helped the Church to steer itself through the turbulent times, which saw many of the heretics being formally outlawed and removed from the Church, and at the same time, through the good works of many of God’s faithful servants, including St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen themselves, many had been converted back to the Lord and were saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all imitate these holy saints, and follow in their footsteps. Let us all deepen our understanding of our faith, by learning through the Church and through the right channels, seeking help for us to understand what our faith is truly about. And let us all also help one another to persevere in faith and remain true to the truth found only in the Church.

May the Lord bless us all and keep us safe in His grace. And may all of us remain true and devoted to the Lord our God, and not falling into temptations of the world and not listening to the falsehoods and lies of the devil and his agents, but instead putting our full trust in the Lord, Who had revealed His truth to all of us. Let us hold strongly to that truth as St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen had done. Amen.

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