Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church

People acquire the habit of religious devotion because of some divine favor that they have experienced.  It may have been an experience of goodness inciting them to love God, who is the source of all goodness.  It may have been an experience of evil inciting them to flee from evil and to seek God’s saving help.  Both experiences are beneficial, provided they turn the soul away from sin and the Devil and towards righteousness and God.

I think that this is what is meant by the verses from today’s first reading which read: “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.”  “What you heard from the beginning” refers to any experience you have had of God’s grace, whether it was turning you from evil or drawing you to good.  Every experience of God’s grace is a new beginning.

So, you should “let what you heard from the beginning remain in you,” because cooperating with God’s grace is not a momentary task.  We have to hold on to the graces we have received, carefully preserving them like small treasures.  We can’t let time wall them off from us.  We have to let them remain active in us, even though some years have gone by.  It would be wrong to expect God to provide a fresh stream of favors suitable for our every whim.  We have no right to demand such a thing, especially in light of how much God has already given.  We would do better to remember what God gave us “in the beginning,” because if what we heard from the beginning remains in us, then we will remain in the Son and in the Father.

January 2nd, 2016