Today we celebrate Basil the Great who was a Bishop of the early church (the 4th Century) who, among other great deeds, fought the heresy of Arianism, and was a staunch defender of the developing Nicene Creed as well as the developing understanding of the Trinity.
Quite by accident our Daily Office readings for the day include Matthew's account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, where to an audience of three people, Peter, James and John, Jesus' countenance changed to a brilliance that could not be looked at and a voice thundered from heaven identifying Jesus as Son, Beloved, someone to be listened to. Think about Peter, James and John and the confusing time they have had with Jesus. He had recently asked who people said he was and Peter gets it right by saying the Messiah, to which Jesus admits that is the truth: how confusing that must have been for them to hear, even if they did guess it. Then Jesus describes his coming Passion and death and they recoil, in particular Peter, and Jesus rebukes him. Now it is six days later and they are on a mountain with Jesus and this amazing, unimaginable and probably quite frightening thing happens before their eyes: where the beauty and magnificence that is God is glimpsed by them.
Arianism, among other things, argued that Jesus was lesser then God, and that the Holy Spirit was lesser then Jesus: that Jesus was not truly divine and truly human. Today's Gospel account is one of the pieces of this mysterious puzzle that assists in putting away more simplistic understandings of the nature of God, for to try and make God simple and understandable in human terms is to take away the brilliance and complexity and mystery of God we get a glimpse of today. Today's Gospel is an example of how exciting and beautiful and scary it is to live into this mystery of faith that we call our own.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.