There seem to be two equally erroneous but popular options. One is to simply give up on the idea of unity and let everyone do whatever they wish. Everyone calls themselves Christian and the faith is reduced to using the name of Jesus. The other extreme which some seem to promote involves a rigid uniformity, of action and thought. The Pope declares and all act accordingly. This model conflates unity and uniformity. It’s greatest flaw is that it is ahistorical. Such a Church never existed.
Today the Church celebrates to great saints and great friends, Gregory and Basil. Both played important roles in shaping Christianity as we know it. Gregory the great writer and speaker would give us the language to talk about the trinity. Basil would shape monastic life in the East. Despite their deep friendship, the two were often at odds with one another. Their disagreements, rather than being the source of division became the crucible in which their ideas were refined.
On this second day of the new year, our celebration of these two saints reminds us that it is precisely through disagreement that we are drawn into a deeper understanding of our faith. Disagreement does not have to lead to division. There is a Christian way to argue. It requires the ability to truly listen.It requires the development of the virtue of patience. And most of all it requires us to constantly ask ourselves, do I really love this other person? Without truly loving the other person the process can devolve into an ego exercise.
St. Gregory and St. Basil pray for us.