“It Doesn’t Make an iota of Difference.”

Many of us have heard, or perhaps even used the expression, “It doesn’t make an iota
of difference.” It is used to indicate how small or inconsequential something might be,
its meaning derived from ‘iota’ the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. Actually, an
example is found in the Gospels. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed the
crowds saying, “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a
dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” So even the smallest, seemingly
inconsequential part of the law will remain intact. Jesus had not come to abolish even
the smallest part of the law, but to fulfill it – all of it.

Fast forward to the Council of Nicea which was convened in 325AD by the Roman
Emperor Constantine. The council was held in the town of Nicea (in modern day
Turkey), and was attended by nearly 2,000 distinguished Church leaders from every
corner of the Roman Empire, including delegates from Europe, Asia and Africa. Over
300 bishops were in attendance, accompanied by priests and deacons.

It has been said that a Church council is not a Boy Scouts meeting, and that was
especially true of Nicea. The central matter of the council was the raging clash over the
Arian controversy – the widespread heretical teaching of Arius, a priest from Alexandria.
Arius and his followers opposed the apostolic teaching of the full divinity of Christ. He
claimed the Word [Jesus] had a beginning, and that prior to that he did not exist. His
followers were known by the saying, “There was a time when He (Jesus) was not.”

The champion of the orthodox side was Athanasius, a deacon – also from Alexandria,
who maintained the doctrine of the full divinity of Christ. Known as the Father of
Orthodoxy, he defended this position, and consequently suffered persecution
throughout much of the rest of his life. After being appointed Bishop of Alexandria, he
was exiled several times – all this even after being vindicated by the council’s
formulation of the Nicene Creed.

The struggle at the council ended in what was arguably the most significant doctrinal
definition in all of Church history. As it turns out, the council’s watershed definition
between orthodoxy and heresy came down to a mere ‘iota’ of difference as reflected in the following two Greek words: Homo-ousios and Homoi-ousios. Homo-ousios means
“of the same substance or essence” (orthodoxy), and Homoi-ousios means “of a similar
substance or essence (heresy).” Hilaire Belloc, the great Catholic historian wrote, “Had
this movement [Arianism]…gained the victory, all our civilization would have been other
than what it has been from that day to this.”

Consequently, without a fully divine Christ, God has not saved us, and we certainly could
not be saved by man, a ‘creature’. Sorry there Mr. Kent, but that ‘S’ on your shirt just
won’t cut it! Only the divine Son of the Living God, the Lamb of God is worthy and able
to rescue us from our fallen state, save us and raise us up on the last day.

Today we bow in awe to honor and worship the Most Holy Trinity, recognizing that
without a Divine Son, the definition – not the reality – of the Blessed Trinity collapses.
Rather, in truth we see that God is a ‘community of Persons.’ God the Father, God the
Son and God the Holy Spirit, one God in three Persons – a communion of perfect,
eternal love. And as St Faustina journaled, may we be “drawn into the glowing center of
love…immersed in the Divine Trinity…united with God.”

It was a mere iota, or rather, the absence of an iota that has made all the difference – a
world of difference to the Catholic faith.

God bless,
+Deacon Dave