MEMORIAL: Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus

“So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”” (John 1:21.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“[Someone] might say that John is Elijah who is to come, in one sense, but that he responded to the priests and Levites, “I am not,” because he knew what they were really asking. For the earlier question to John from the priests and Levites was not intended to ascertain if the same spirit was in both men, but if John were that very Elijah who had been taken up, now appearing without a birth according to the Jewish expectation. For those who had been sent from Jerusalem may have been ignorant of John’s birth. He appropriately answers this question, “I am not,” for Elijah who had been taken up had not come, as if he had changed his body and had been named John.” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6.)

O God,
who were pleased to give light to your Church
by the example and teaching
of the Bishops Saints Basil and Gregory,
grant, we pray,
that in humility we may learn your truth
and practice it faithfully in charity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen