Thoughts from the Early Church
Basil the Great
We have come from the East to worship the king.
“The star came to rest above the place where the child was. At the sight of it the wise men were filled with great joy” and that great joy should fill our hearts as well. It is the same as the joy the shepherds received from the glad tidings brought by the angels.
Let us join the wise men in worship and the shepherds in giving glory to God. Let us dance with the angels and sing: “To us is born this day a savior who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God and he has appeared to us,” not as God which would have terrified us in our weakness, but as a slave in order to free those living in slavery.
Could anyone be so lacking in sensibility and so ungrateful as not to join us all in our gladness, exultation, and radiant joy?
This feast belongs to the whole universe. It gives heavenly gifts to the earth, it sends archangels to Zechariah and to Mary, it assembles a choir of angels to sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.”
Stars cross the sky, wise men journey from pagan lands, earth receives its savior in a cave. Let there be no one without a gift to offer, no one without gratitude as we celebrate the salvation of the world, the birthday of the human race.
Now it is no longer, “Dust you are and to dust you shall return, ” but "You are joined to heaven and into heaven you shall be taken up." It is no longer, “In sorrow you shall bring forth children, ” but, "Blessed is she who has borne Emmanuel and blessed the breast that nursed him."
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; and dominion is laid upon his shoulder. ”
Come, join the company of those who merrily welcome the Lord from heaven. Think of shepherds receiving wisdom, of priests prophesying, of women who are glad of heart, as Mary was when told by the angel to rejoice and as Elizabeth was when John leapt in her womb.
Anna announced the good news; Simeon took the child in his arms. They worshiped the mighty God in a tiny baby, not despising what they beheld but praising his divine majesty. Like light through clear glass the power of the Godhead shone through that human body for those whose inner eye was pure.
Among such may we also be numbered, so that beholding his radiance with unveiled face we too may be transformed from glory to glory by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and power for endless ages. Amen.
(Homily 2 on Christ's Origin, PG 31, 1472-1476)
Basil the Great (c. 330-379), one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers, received an excellent education and began a career as a rhetorician before a spiritual awakening led him to receive baptism and become a monk.
After visiting ascetics in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia, he decided that it was better for monks to live together in monasteries than alone as hermits, and he set about organizing Cappadocian monasticism. Basil's Rules influenced Saint Benedict.
In 370 Basil succeeded Eusebius as bishop of Caesarea. His main concern was for the unity of the Church, and he strove to establish better relations between Rome and the East. His efforts bore fruit only after his death.
Basil's writings include dogmatic, ascetic, and pedagogic treatises as well as letters and sermons.
**From Saint Louis University