Publish date 29-08-2021
Why complain about our time? Easter of 2021 is no worse than Easter of 379 when, during the night, a group of monks and stragglers had tried to stone Saint Gregory of Nazianzo, already the subject of a ferocious campaign for months disparaging. Shortly after, in the early months of 380, an ambiguous character from Alexandria, Maximus the Cynic, took advantage of Gregory's good faith to try to become bishop of Constantinople: an act of "entryism" of Egypt who wanted a man of his to sit on the chair of rival city. Poor Gregory! Just him, who had always tried to avoid the spotlight and the power games. But after the death of his great, fraternal and strong friend St. Basil in January 379, Gregory had felt the responsibility to somehow continue his work as a weaver of the Christian community and had moved to Constantinople. There was a need to consolidate the faith in Christ true God and true man, the content of the Council of Nicaea, under attack from those who denied the divinity of Christ (Arius), and against those who denied his humanity (Apollinaris of Laodicea). Not only. There was the attack of the pneumatomacs, who denied the divinity of the Spirit.
Saint Basil had written a treatise on the Holy Spirit not only to defend the divinity of Christ "of the same substance as the Father", but to express the divinity of the Spirit in a manner consistent with the definition of the Council of Nicaea, Oral tradition and the interpretation of Scripture. Basil: "The Holy Spirit is holy by nature, ontologically, just as the Father is holy by nature and the Son is holy by nature." His friend Gregorio di Nazianzo gives him support: "If the Spirit does not deserve our adoration, how can he make me divine through baptism? If, on the other hand, he deserves it, how can he not be the object of our worship, how can he not be God? ». To deny the divinity of the Spirit is to make salvation vain. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of is precisely denying his divinity. A blasphemy against our baptism, whose deep meaning, says Basil, is the initiation into a path of holiness.
We become bearers of the Spirit and "as limpid and transparent bodies, when a ray strikes them, reflect another splendor, so the souls who carry the Spirit, illuminated by the Spirit, become spiritual", capable of pouring out "Grace over others". Do they seem dry theological debates? Perhaps even in 2021 we should be interested in it more: the effects of a statement, in one sense or another, can be disruptive. Without the divinity of the Holy Spirit and his action of divinization, the personal life of those who seek to be Christian would become a tiring and unsuccessful imitation of Christ, and not "life in Christ". And at the Church level? It would mean the slide towards institution, imposed authority, justicialism, moralism and the end of prophecy. "Remembering God more often than we breathe," said Gregory Nazianzen, to say, full of the Spirit, an inspired word. Free and prophetic.
NP April 2021