January 2nd is the Memorial for two teachers of the faith, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus.
These two bishops were active in ministry in the 4th Century.
They are among some of the great teachers of our Christian Faith.
We recognize them, among other things, for their contribution to the Nicene Creed. Through their teaching the Theology of the Trinity, foundational for Christianity, was cemented into our faith.
Although their friendship, which started as young people, failed later in their ministry over a dispute when Basil insisted on Gregory being appointed to a small rural diocese as bishop. This dispute lasted until the death of Basil in 379.
Though their friendship had been fractured, Gregory preached an eloquent and deeply affectionate eulogy in honour of Basil the Great. Thankfully Gregory’s words have been preserved for us today.
I quote: “Our sole object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from the world before we departed from it. With this end in view, we ordered all our lives and actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.”
“… Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.”
Today, we give thanks for these towering giants in our faith journey; for by them we can, to this day, identify ourselves as Christian--we can call ourselves Christians and people to this day call us Christians.
What sets us apart is contained in these words as summed up in the last stanza of the Nicene Creed:
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come. Amen.
Blessings in this Season of Epiphany,
Archdeacon Brian+ (Christian)