Wednesday, 2 January 2019 : 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, today through the readings of the Sacred Scriptures we are reminded of the necessity for us to discern carefully our path in life, and to follow the way that the Lord has shown before us, not to fall into the trap of falsehood and the path of heresies, by which Satan is trying to pull us away from God and from His salvation. God has given us His truth, and those who claimed otherwise than this truth, are the servants of the devil.

In today’s Gospel reading, we have heard the story of the life and work of St. John the Baptist, the herald and servant of the Lord, who was to be the last one to come to prepare the way for the coming of God’s Saviour, that is Our Lord, Jesus Christ. St. John the Baptist went to live in the desert, and spent his time calling on the people to turn away from their sins and to repent their past wickedness in life.

He performed the baptism with water at the River Jordan, with many people who came to him, wanting to be baptised by him, and as symbol of their penitential intention. Many would have thought that he was the Messiah who has been prophesied to come by the earlier prophets, by virtue of his wisdom and his call for the people to repentance, but St. John the Baptist openly said before those who asked him, including the Pharisees who doubted him, that he was not the Messiah, but merely the one who was to prepare the way for Him.

In this, we see the contrast between the two, on one hand, St. John the Baptist, faithful and yet humble servant of God, and on the other hand, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who were often proud and boisterous about their faith, but they did not act in the manner that God had wanted them to be. The latter rejected the truth of God as revealed through St. John the Baptist, which we had seen in our Gospel passage today, in how they doubted St. John the Baptist and mocked him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we also celebrate the feast of two other holy and devout servants of Our God, who have also encountered many challenges and difficulties throughout their respective ministries. They are St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two of the original Doctors of the Church, whose many works and inspiring writings helped to shape the doctrine and the teachings of the Church in its early years, especially during the time when there were numerous heresies and falsehoods.

St. Basil the Great was the bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, an area in Asia Minor, while St. Gregory Nazianzen was the Archbishop of Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. These two holy men lived and ministered to the people of God at a crucial time, when the faithful and the Church were beset by many heresies, especially that of Arianism, which denied the equality of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the Father, as well as many other heresies, syncretic and false faith.

St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, in their respective areas of responsibility, and in whatever they could do, committed their lives to the service of God, and to the benefit of those flock that has been entrusted to their care, and even more. They were also known for their care and concern for their flock, in their physical and material well-being, on top of their concern for the spiritual benefits of their people.

The divisions and bitterness caused by the many heresies at that time, were not easy to be overcome. Nonetheless, the great efforts of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen have been instrumental in the reunion of the many divided branches and segments of the Church and the faithful, and many were reconciled to the true faith by their efforts, and by their hard work and tireless dedications.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what we have heard and discussed today, should be inspiration for each and every one of us, in how we should put our trust in God and keep ourselves away from all the lies and falsehoods of the devil, the false prophets and all those who are working not for the greater glory of God, but for their own glory and for the purpose of Satan. We should remain strong and faithful to the Lord despite all the challenges we encounter in life.

May the Lord help us, through the examples of His holy saints, faithful servants who devoted their lives to serve Him, St. John the Baptist, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and the many other holy and devout men and women of God. May He bless us all, now and always. Amen.

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