Feast of St Hilary of Poitiers
During the time of the Roman Empire there were all sorts of ideas about gods, just as there are today. One of the most common ideas was that there was a hierarchy of gods, from one great god down to something like spirits or fairies as we would call them nowadays.
This of course was alien to the Christian message of One God in Three persons. However, in the year 318AD a priest called Arius said in a sermon that Jesus was not equal to the Father and was created by the Father in some way, thus making him the greatest of all created beings.
There began an argument in the church which took two or three hundred years to settle. One of the great thinkers who set the church right in its teaching was Hilary of Poitiers. He was born about the time that Arius was preaching and was made bishop of his native city in the year 350AD.
The Office of Readings today contains an excerpt from Hilary’s writing on the Trinity in which he defends the teaching of the Church that there is one God in Three Persons. In the reading Hilary uses a wonderful phrase that for some reason struck me very forcefully: “That you, Father, are God yet not alone.”
This one phrase sums up the whole argument: God is God but he is not alone, he has with him the Son and the Spirit.
Blessed Columba Marmion said the following in his book, Christ the Life of the Soul: “The Christian life is about coming to believe that Jesus Christ is God.”
Anyone who teaches anything else is not from the true God. Hilary knew this, and fought hard to proclaim it.