Saturday, 2 January 2021 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to proclaim the truth of God and to hold fast to the same truth that the Lord has passed down onto us through His Church. We should not be easily swayed by the temptations and the lies of Satan, and all that he has used in trying to lead us astray down the wrong path.

In our first reading today we heard from the Epistle of the Apostle St. John on the matter of the presence of antichrists, false prophets and the false leaders and teachers of the faithful who had and would, and indeed, in the future to come, will misguide the people of God into the path of ruin and sin against God. St. John reminded all the faithful to keep and to stay steadfast to what they had received from the very beginning.

He reminded us all of everything that the Lord had done for our sake, all that He had committed to us, by giving us His Son for our salvation and liberation from the bondage and enslavement to sin, as well as the tyranny of death. Through His Incarnation and birth into this world, and then by the truth and the salvation He brought to us by His sacrifice on the Cross, the Lord has saved us all, and this is what we all believe in as Christians.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the faithful servant of God and the Herald of the Messiah, St. John the Baptist, who was calling the people to repent from their sinful ways, and who was baptising them with water in the River Jordan just before the Lord Himself was to begin His own ministry. He was confronted by many of the chief priests, Pharisees and all those who refused to believe in him and his works.

And we heard how St. John the Baptist courageously answered them all for their doubts and queries, and speaking of God’s works done through him. And when he was asked if he was the Messiah that was promised by God, St. John the Baptist resolutely and humbly spoke that he was not the One, and that he was not even worthy to untie the strip of His sandals. This was truly a great statement of faith and also a profound display of true humility that all of us Christians should be inspired by.

We have to contrast this to the behaviour of the many false teachers and leaders who had appeared and led the people astray throughout the history of the Church and man, those who claimed that they were the Messiah and profess to have the better knowledge of the truth when what they had were in fact falsehoods, utter nonsense and even came from the devil himself. They acted with pride and greed, selfishly focusing on themselves and their desires rather than serving God.

That is why today we should look upon the examples set by St. John the Baptist, as well as the many other devout and holy servants of God, particularly St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, whose feast day we celebrate today. And quite fittingly, these two saints worked hard against the falsehoods of the heretics and all those who had led the people astray from God.

St. Basil the Great was the Bishop of Caesarea in Asia Minor, while St. Gregory Nazianzen, also known as St. Gregory of Nazianzus was the Archbishop of Constantinople, contemporaries who were the courageous and important leaders of the Church in the struggle against the heresies prevalent at that time, particularly the heresy of Arianism that bitterly divided many of the members of the faithful, clergy and the laity alike, and which was supported by powerful members of the nobles and the government.

St. Basil the Great rallied hard against the Arians and their teachings, resolutely refusing to let their perversion of the true faith to continue, rejecting their false ideas that the Lord Jesus as the Son was not equal to the Father, and that He was created rather than Co-Eternal with Him. He also worked hard against other heresies like Apollinarism that conflicted the understanding of the nature of Christ.

St. Gregory Nazianzen similarly also worked hard in combatting the same heresies in his See of Constantinople and beyond, and helped to strengthen the theological discourse and teachings of the true faith together with St. Basil and other holy fathers of the Church. They laboured hard against those false prophets and leaders, and following in the footsteps of the Apostles, continued to strengthen the foundations of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have received the same truth of God through the Church, and we are all therefore called to continue the good works that were started by those holy fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen in particular. Let us all do our very best, in whatever capacity we have, to devote and dedicate our time and effort, in our daily lives in whatever little ways and things we do, to glorify God and to proclaim the truth of God in our communities, and lead more souls to the truth.

May God bless us all in our good endeavours and efforts, and may Holy Fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen always intercede for us all. Amen.

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