St. Basil and St. Gregorian Nazianen (January 2)
Basil and Gregory were born in Asia Minor in the year 330. This area is modern-day Turkey. Basil's grandmother, father, mother, two brothers and a sister are all saints. Gregory's parents are St. Nonna and St. Gregory the Elder. Basil and Gregory met and became great friends at school in Athens, Greece.
Basil became a well-known teacher. One day his sister, St. Macrina, suggested that he become a monk. He listened to her advice, moved to the wilderness and there started his first monastery. The rule he gave his monks was very wise. Monasteries in the East have followed it down to our own times. Both Basil and Gregory became priests and then bishops. They preached bravely against the Arian heresy which denied that Jesus is God. This heresy was confusing people.
While he was bishop of Constantinople, Gregory converted many people with his wonderful preaching. This nearly cost him his life. A young man planned to murder him. He repented at the last moment and begged Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory did forgive him and won him with his gentle goodness. Forty-four of Gregory's speeches, 243 letters and many poems were published. His writings are still important today. Many writers have based their works on his.
Gregory's friend Basil had a very kind and generous heart. He always found time to help the poor. He even invited people who were poor themselves to help those worse off. "Give your last loaf to the beggar at your door," he urged, "and trust in God's goodness." He gave away his inheritance and opened a soup kitchen where he could often be seen wearing an apron and feeding the hungry.
Basil died in 379 at the age of forty-nine. Gregory died in 390 at the age of sixty. He is buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
We will never be sorry for using our education, time and talents to help the people around us become closer to God.
Reflection: May the example and teaching of St. Basil and St. Gregory inspire us "to profess the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). May this be our prayer today.