Memorial of Saints Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen – Seasonal Reflections

Memorial of Saints Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen

Readings: Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church | USCCB 

“God don’t look like that!” yells Sarah Ruth at the end of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Parker’s Back.” She recoils in horror from the icon of Christ Pantocrator her husband Parker has had tattooed on his back. “[God] don’t look,” she complains. “He’s a spirit. No man shall see his face.”(1) 

The character Sarah Ruth is far from the first person to struggle to see the saving power of God in the person of Christ. Today’s readings don’t lie when they say some would deceive us about the divine sonship of Jesus Christ. It is not an easy truth to understand and to live. Yet the readings warn us that those who deny the Son do not have the Father. John 1:18 testifies: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son…has revealed him.” 

Today the Church commends to our attention two great saints and doctors of the Church: Basil the Great, and Gregory Nazianzen. These fourth century Cappadocian fathers helped clarify the Christology of the early Church, by insisting Christ is both fully God and fully man. The reality of the Incarnation threads today’s readings together. Unlike John the Baptist, Christ is not a forerunner to the main event. Christ himself is the revelation. The saving power of God has a face. 

(1) Flannery O’Connor, “Parker’s Back,” The Complete Stories (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971), 529. 

Dr. Erika Kidd, Associate Professor in Catholic Studies 

The Campus Ministry Seasonal Reflections are offered during the liturgical seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. We bring a variety of voices from Students, Faculty and Staff. The perspectives expressed in these reflections are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Campus Ministry. 

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