Today the Church celebrates two great saints who were also close friends, Gregory of Nazianzuz and Basil, one of the few saints on whom the Church has bestowed the title "the Great."
Both lived in the time when the Church was still struggling with the basic nature of Christ and it is, therefore, fitting that we celebrate them on this 9th day of Christmas.
At the time there were two competing notions of Jesus. The first is the one we hold now that God is a trinity, three equal persons, all of which existed from before all time.
The second one called Arianism which saw the Father as the eternal God. Jesus was understood to be subordinate to him, created.
While I have yet to run into anyone who would call themselves an Arian, many seem to think as Arians. When you hear the word "God" what image pops into your mind? If the first image is the father, instead of all three persons of the trinity, that's Arian. If you think of the Father as outranking the Son or the Holy Spirit, that's Arian. Our creed hammers home the equality of the persons " God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God."
Why is it so hard for us to truly grasp the reality of the trinity? It strikes me that all we have to do is look at our present political wrangling, our tendency to see the world as a zero sum game, where one persons win must be another persons loss. There must be a top dog.
We cannot seem to wrap our minds around three persons in undivided unity and harmony, perfect collaboration from before the beginning of the creation of the universe until now.
And yet, as Christians we believe that we humans are created in the image and likeness of God. One aspect of this likeness is that we too are called to imitate that collaboration. May we strive to imitate the trinity we profess.