Monday, January 10, 2011

Come After Me, And I Will Make You Fishers Of Men

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Hebrews 1:1-6
Brothers and sisters:
In times past,
God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days,
he spoke to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,

who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things
by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished
purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand
of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited
is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my Son;
this day I have begotten you?

Or again:
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a Son to me?

And again, when he leads
the first born into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 97
R. Let all his angels worship him.
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Justice and judgment
are the foundation of his throne.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Let all his angels worship him.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
Because you, O LORD,
are the Most High over all the earth,
exalted far above all gods.
R. Let all his angels worship him.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 1:14-20
After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee
proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew
casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me,
and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee,
and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.
St. Gregory of Nyssa
(c. 330-395)

The son of two saints, Basil and Emmilia, young Gregory was raised by his older brother, St. Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in modern-day Turkey. Gregory's success in his studies suggested great things were ahead for him. After becoming a professor of rhetoric, he was persuaded to devote his learning and efforts to the Church. By then married, Gregory went on to study for the priesthood and become ordained (this at a time when celibacy was not a matter of law for priests).

He was elected Bishop of Nyssa (in Lower Armenia) in 372, a period of great tension over the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Briefly arrested after being falsely accused of embezzling Church funds, Gregory was restored to his see in 378, an act met with great joy by his people.

It was after the death of his beloved brother, Basil, that Gregory really came into his own. He wrote with great effectiveness against Arianism and other questionable doctrines, gaining a reputation as a defender of orthodoxy. He was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of prominence at the Council of Constantinople. His fine reputation stayed with him for the remainder of his life, but over the centuries it gradually declined as the authorship of his writings became less and less certain. But, thanks to the work of scholars in the 20th century, his stature is once again appreciated. Indeed, St. Gregory of Nyssa is seen not simply as a pillar of orthodoxy but as one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and to monasticism itself.

Orthodoxy is a word that raises red flags in our minds. It connotes rigid attitudes that make no room for honest differences of opinion. But it might just as well suggest something else: faith that has settled deep in one’s bones. Gregory’s faith was like that. So deeply imbedded was his faith in Jesus that he knew the divinity that Arianism denied. When we resist something offered as truth without knowing exactly why, it may be because our faith has settled in our bones.

Saint of the Day

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