The Same, Yesterday, Today, and ForeverFr. Barnabas Powell
Today is the feast of the Three Hierarchs, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Chrysostom, the great 4th century preacher in Constantinople.
Each year this feast day marks a powerful moment in the history of the Church. You see, at one time, these three saints had singular and separate feast days, and, as humans will do, controversy ensued. There developed over the years something of a rivalry between those who thought St. Basil was better than the other two, those who help St. Gregory in highest esteem, and still others who insisted St. John was the prince among these three. Soon, this rivalry threatened the peace and unity of the church in the capital of the Empire and something had to be done.
One night the three saints appeared in a dream to a great man of God named St. John, bishop of Euchaita. In the dream the three great men of God declared it was foolish to try to say who was more important than who since we are all equal before the Lord. So, the Church declared a feast day that held all three together and this is why today’s feast is so very precious. These three men so incarnated the Christian virtues of wisdom, peace, love, humility, and dedication that their lives and work, to this day, shape and instruct the whole Christian world. May their memories be eternal.
But isn’t it interesting that we humans will take even the greatest gifts and start to form “teams” around them? We seem to thrive in creating an “us vs. them” mentality.
In today’s Epistle Lesson St. Paul instructs us in the letter of Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The Lord is timeless in His Person, His ministry, and His Presence. He is not more powerful in the past than He is today. He isn’t getting stronger as the years pass, or weaker. He is the SAME today as He has ever been.
In light of that the temptation to create some nostalgic connection to this or that era of the Church and forget that the Church is Christ’s Body, can lead us to fall into the trap of forever looking back. On the other hand, if we dwell only on the future Someday when the Lord makes all things right and the judgment day comes, we will fall into the same trap as the others.
No, dear ones, we do remember and we do anticipate, but we never allow the truth to slip that Christ is in our midst! He is and ever shall be. As C.S. Lewis said “All moments are in this moment.”
So, today, don’t allow the regret of the past or the fear of the future rob you of this moment. Christ is here now, in all His glory and power and He stands now at the door of your life. “Today is the day of salvation, now is the accepted time.” Take your spiritual life by the horns and wrestle with your spiritual needs and hopes now. Allow the great moments of the past to teach you how to be actively purposeful in your faith right now. Allow the coming reality of your own mortality and your own appointment with the “awesome judgement seat of Christ” to energize your purposeful practice of your faith today, in this moment. Don’t fall for the con of the evil one to get trapped by either nostalgia or fear.
Today, Christ is here. Today, all the saints still are alive in Christ and pray for us in this moment. Today all the spiritual tools you will ever need are in your hands. Today. Amen.