We celebrate Basil the Great, doctor of the Church and Gregory Nazianzen. They lived in the 4th century. Basil is the Father of monasticism. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzen defended the Church against the prevailing opinion at that time, Arianism, that believed Jesus is a creation and not divine. This is what he said about heretics during his time: Now they have produced their deadly fruit. The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts, and exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety. The result is, that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter the people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord’s flock with knowledge.
This is extremely applicable today, where we have people who preach their opinions rather than the Truth taught by the Church. St John, in his letter says these deny that Jesus is the Christ. This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. John advises let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. We are to hold on to what the Church has taught since the time of the Apostles. Many have twisted the teaching of the Church and have misled people. In the Gospel today, John the Baptist shows us how to remain in the Truth. He admits who he is, even if people were thinking he is the Messiah. He vehemently denied this: I am not the Messiah. He also admits: I am not worthy to untie the tong of his sandal. Bearing witness is not about ourselves. It is pointing people to Jesus.
How will we know whether a preacher speaks the truth or not? If the preaching is about themselves, if they draw attention to themselves, by changing the words of liturgy, by preaching their opinions, when they are more interested in looking good than in preaching what is good, we know this person is a false prophet, an antichrist.
Lord God, reveal false prophets who preach themselves, who poison their flock with false teachings. Do not let them succeed and instead, hold them accountable so they may repent and save their souls. St Basil and Gregory Nazianzen, pray that we may have faithful preachers who are willing to speak the Truth, even if it is unpopular and even if it is to their harm.