Memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop, and Doctor
Today’s Gospel reminds us how the Jewish people of Jesus’ time did not recognize the Word among them. They did not see “the Christ,” nor were they listening to the Shepherd’s voice of that time. Those leaders could not fathom Jesus being one with the Father, nor could anyone be one with God in a special unity.
This was the same challenge that today’s saint, Athanasius, fought with the different religious leaders of his time. Athanasius used most of John’s Gospel to prove the unity of the Trinity. He wrote many treatises during his 48 years as bishop, the most important being Against the Heathen which focuses on “the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us” – writing on the incarnation John’s prologue.
Athanasius got caught imitating the bishop baptizing his fellow friends as a child. Through his later teachings, writings, multiple church councils, and five exiles, he witnessed, believed, and practiced the importance of Christ’s dying and rising for us through the waters of new life. His use of the word “consubstantial” – or as we used to say in the Nicene Creed – “one in being” — reminds us of the unity of the Trinity that we are shaped through baptism. We continue renewing our promises and lives as disciples by hearing the Shepherd’s voice and knowing that God is one. We hope to mirror this in our faith.
We may not say the Nicene Creed on this day, but we can remember through each dip in the holy water font and each sign of the cross our profession of faith. It is a tribute to this great saint and the great mystery of faith that we witness the Trinity in our lives. That witness called the first Christians at Antioch and us today, where ever we live, our faith.
John Thomas Lane SSS
Highland Heights, Ohio
Gentle Shepherd, with the Father and Spirit, you help us hear the voice that guides our lives. May we be faithful to our call and go where you lead us, trusting in your will for us. For you are Christ the Lord, forever and ever.