Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors – Readings

Commentary on Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13; Psalm 22; Matthew 23:8-12

In the Gospel, which is from Matthew, Jesus calls on his followers to avoid all honorary titles.  Every member of the community, irrespective of their role, has only one Master and all are brothers and sisters to each other.   All are called to serve each other, to seek the well-being of every other member through agape-love.  And, in any community, those are greatest who provide the most effective service.  Both Basil and Gregory were bishops, but at heart they remained true to their original callings as monks and hermits.  Their lives were lived not to rule or dominate but to heal the divisions among their communities.

The First Reading, from the Letter to the Ephesians, emphasises first, the unity which must bind the community.  A unity which comes from being members of one Body, with one Faith, one Lord, one God, one hope and one Baptism.

The Church in the time of Basil and Gregory was seriously divided by the Arian heresy and it was through their efforts that unity was restored.   Unity, however, does not mean uniformity; we are not clones of each other.  And so, as the Reading says, real unity only happens when people with different characteristics and callings, different responsibilities work together towards one goal – the establishment of God’s Kingdom.

For us, their lives, committed to unity and service, are highly relevant for us today.

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