Tuesday, 2 January 2018 : 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 two testimonies of faith, one from St. John the Evangelista and Apostle in his Epistle to the faithful, which is our first reading passage today, and the other is from the testimony of faith of St. John the Baptist before the Pharisees and the priests who were sent to him to ask him about who he really was, in our Gospel passage today.

In the first reading today, we heard of St. John who warned the people about the dangers of the lies and falsehoods of the antichrist, those whose designs and works are against the truth of God, and trying to lead astray the faithful people of God into sin and darkness. This was made against the reality of the Church at the time, when certain preachers or leaders might be proclaiming messages and teachings contrary to the truth.

Then, in the Gospel passage we heard about St. John the Baptist, who was questioned by the Pharisees and the priests sent by the Temple, who doubted his teaching authority and the actions he had done, in baptising the people and proclaiming the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God. They asked whether St. John the Baptist was in reality, the Messiah Who was promised to the people of Israel by the ancient prophecies.

St. John the Baptist was very popular among the people, and many flocked to the river Jordan in order to listen to his preaching, and many gave themselves to be baptised by him in the river. He could have used his popularity and claimed that he was the Messiah and Saviour of the world, and many would have believed his claim. And yet, as we witnessed, he publicly declared before those who questioned him, that he was not the Messiah.

St. John the Baptist showed all of us the essence of true discipleship, obeying the Lord’s commandments and carrying out faithfully the mission which he had been entrusted with, that is to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, and to welcome Him into the world, by calling upon many people to turn away from their sins and repent, that they and their hearts may be receptive to receive God’s words and truth when He came.

And he humbly accepted his role, as he had done with the Pharisees and the priests’ question regarding his identity, by revealing to all that he was merely the one who preceded the coming of the Messiah, the One Whose coming would be glorious, and he himself would not be worthy even to untie the straps of His sandals. His humility and obedience to God was truly noteworthy, and it is an example that all of us Christians should be following.

Today, we also celebrate the feast day of two great saints of the Church, two of the four original Doctors of the Church, truly devoted and great servants of God like St. John the Baptist. They are St. Basil of Caesarea, also known as St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory Nazianzen. Both of them were renowned Church fathers and important persona of the early Church, especially in the formulation of the correct and true teachings of the faith, against the various forms of heresies and falsehoods abundant at that time.

Both St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen lived and worked at the time when the Church was bitterly divided over theological disagreements, on the many aspects of the faith. Many heretics and false prophets brought the people into heresy and sin in order to advance their own self-aggrandised and ambitious agenda. This was precisely what the Apostle St. John warned us against in his Epistle, in our first reading today.

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen stood fast against those who were trying to undermine the unity of the Church and spread false teachings and lies. They worked hard among the people of God, not for their own personal goals or ambition, but for the greater glory of God, and for the salvation of the souls of their brethren, who were about to be doomed to hell had they continued in their path of heresy.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, by looking at the examples of these devout and hardworking saints and servants of Our God, all of us as Christians should also be inspired to live as these holy predecessors of ours have lived their lives. Let us all therefore do our best in order to live faithfully in accordance with God’s will, and seek to be ever more committed to serve Him day after another.

May the Lord bless each and every one of us, that we may draw ever closer to Him, and so that we may find our way to Him and to the eternal glory He has promised all of us. Amen.

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