A loose translation of a homily delivered by Bishop Joanikije on the Feast of the Holy Three Hierarchs Here.
We celebrate today three Apostles of Christ, who after the Holy Apostles continued, in the true sense of the word, the apostolic service throughout the ecumene. We refer to them ecumenical teachers and saints – which truly they are – and they are saints because they took their cross, all three of them, and as the Holy apostles, followed Christ from their youth.
During the reign of Constantine and following the Edict of Milan, many pagans came to the Church, and the righteous of God and ecumenical teachers, Saints whom we commemorate today, took up themselves the people who were not yet enlightened enough. There were plenty of Christians during the pagan reign of the Roman Empire, but we mustn’t forget that Christianity was persecuted and all the way up until Constantine, and after him, many held to pagan, Hellenism, while these Saints, who studied worldly knowledge and wisdom, literature, philosophy, were well educated in history, the arts, and knew how to approach the people who were not Christian.
They Christianized the ancient Hellenic culture and civilization, at the same time, being opened to those newly come to the Church of God, they preserved as the Apostles once did Christ’s holy faith of God’s Revelation, the holy mystery of the Church of God. Receiving the pagans they, in fact, gave them the Gospel of God. To this day they are – after the Holy Apostles – the greatest authority in the Church, besides St. John the Baptist and Mother of God. After the Holy Apostles we always mention these three Holy and great hierarchs.
The joint feast of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Great was established later. As usually happens among people, there was a dispute about which one of them is the greatest. Each of them was great in something but their greatness , in fact, is the same. Each of them used their gift to the glory of God and it had a great effect, they all lived holy lives. They all shared the same faith, they all followed the same path, and though their gifts varied, and had different abilities and talents, they multiplied them. They are among the ones who multiplied their talents, who shine upon us with their holy lives, holy deeds, and teachings. All three have great knowledge of Holy Scripture, all three have great knowledge of worldly wisdom, but – above all- they are people of faith, people of prayer, people of holy living, asceticism, podvig and battle, examples to this day for every priest and every Christian.