It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like for Christians at the beginning of the fourth century. For three centuries they had been persecuted. Welcome neither in Jerusalem's synagogues nor Rome's temples, they hid in the catacombs or died in the Coliseum, but within fifty years of the conversion of Constantine, Christianity became the state religion and anyone who sought office in the Roman empire had first to be baptized.
The chaos and confusion must have been overwhelming. Rejoicing on the one hand in the new freedom they had to worship in public, they had also to deal with divisions within their ranks, especially about the nature of Jesus, and how to live with the new riches and power available to them as prominent citizens of Rome.
St Athanasius was about 20 yrs old when Constantine first professed faith in Jesus and led a tumultuous life. Exiled five times from his see in Alexandria, he continued to defend the divinity of Jesus in a world that wanted compromise at any price, and held up St. Anthony of Egypt and his simple life as a model for all Christians. That he remained faithful to the most basic teachings of Christianity despite great personal suffering makes his life a challenge for believers everywhere.
The struggle to live a faith based life at the beginning of the 21st century is great. With the explosion of the newly emerging social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, there is enormous competition for our attention. How the practice and life of faith fits into all of this is unclear, but with Athanasius we can recommit ourselves to live simply and transparently as witnesses to God's love for us in Jesus Christ.
Today, be grateful for anything and anyone who reminds you of God's love for us in Jesus
Who most impresses you with their simple life of faith?