June 14, 2006

Basil the Great

Category: Communion of Saints — Micah @ 12:00 am

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Good day, and welcome to Communion of Saints from stjeromeschapel.org. I’m your host, Micah Jackson. Today is June 14th, 2006: the feast of Blessed Basil the Great.

In Caesarea of Cappadocia in the early 4th century, there lived a wealthy and pious family. No one, except God himself, could have foreseen how influential this family would turn out to be in the history of Christianity. One of the members of this family is the man we remember today, Basil the Great.

Now Basil, like all of us, wasn’t always great. He started out as a scholar, and would have gladly remained so. But the death of a younger brother caused him to seek after God for solace, and the deep faith of his sister Macrina inspired him to become baptized at the age of 28. The church quickly recognized Basil’s value as a leader in the community, and he was ordained shortly after his baptism. Imitating his sister’s initiative and founding a monastic community, he helped to write the Longer and Shorter Rules, which influence the life and work of monks to this very day.

Perhaps Basil’s most influential work, though, is his book On the Holy Spirit. In it, he argues conclusively that the Spirit is an equal member of the Trinity, deserving equal honor, glory, and worship with the Son and the Father. He was so persuasive in his argument, that it is difficult today to imagine that this assertion was ever controversial. But it was in his time. He must have loved the passage from 1 Corinthians that we read today, “No one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.” (1 Cor 2:6-13)

At the end of his life, he gave a powerful witness to the right use of wealth. He left his entire estate to the people of Caesarea to build themselves a completely new town with not only better housing than they had, but also a hospital, places for travelers to stay, and a church. Basil showed that he cared about the physical well-being of the people of God, as well as their intellectual and spiritual well-being. No wonder he’s called “the Great.”

Let us pray: Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like your bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for listening to Communion of Saints. Please join us tomorrow at stjeromeschapel.org for the feast of Blessed Evelyn Underhill. I’m Micah Jackson. May God be with you.

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