Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea & Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople

2 January -- Lesser Festival -- Teachers of the Faith -- White

Gregory and Basil were two friends bound together by their desire to promote and defend the divinity of Christ as proclaimed in the Nicene Creed. This was against the seemingly overwhelming pressure from both Church and State for the establishment of Arianism, which denied Christ's divinity and thus the whole Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Basil was renowned for being headstrong and forceful, in comparison to his friend Gregory, who would rather spend his days in prayer and living the simple, ascetic life. Gregory's brilliance in oratory and theological debate meant that a hidden life was virtually impossible and Basil drew him into the forefront of the controversy. Their joint persuasive eloquence convinced the first Council of Constantinople, meeting in 381, that their teaching was the truly orthodox one and the Council ratified the text of the Nicene Creed in the form it is used in the East to this day. Basil died in 379 and Gregory ten years later.

Collect

Lord God,
whose servants Basil and Gregory
proclaimed the mystery of your Word made flesh,
to build up your Church in wisdom and strength:
grant that we may rejoice in his presence among us,
and so be brought with them to know
the power of your unending love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the Wisdom of Solomon.

May God grant me to speak with judgement, and to have thoughts worthy of what I have received; for he is the guide even of wisdom and the corrector of the wise. For both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts. For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements; the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the natures of animals and the tempers of wild animals, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots; I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.

This is the word of the Lord.         Wisdom 7. 15-22a

Responsorial Psalm

RYou say, O Lord, 'Seek my face';
[Your face only will I seek].
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,
it was they, my foes and adversaries, who stumbled and fell. R

Though an army should encamp against me,
yet my heart shall not be afraid;
and though war should rise up against me,
yet will I put my trust in God. R

One thing have I asked of the Lord, one thing I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the fair beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple. R

You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face."
Your face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not your face from me,
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
You have been my helper, cast me not away;
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation. R         From Psalm 27

A reading from the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

This is the word of the Lord.         2 Timothy 4. 1-8

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

Jesus said to the crowds: "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

This is the gospel of Christ.         Matthew 5. 13-19

Post Communion

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
    of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with your servants Basil and Gregory
   to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.