Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Prevents You?

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water!  What prevents me from being baptized?”  (Acts 8:36)

Imitate the eunuch.  He found an instructor on the road, and he did not spurn instruction; but although he was a rich man, he caused the poor man to mount into his chariot: a grand and splendid courtier placed at his side a private individual, on whom others would look with contempt; and when he had learned the gospel of the kingdom, he embraced the faith with his heart, and did not delay to receive the seal of the Spirit.  For when they drew nigh to a stream, “behold,” he says, “here is water,” thus showing his great joy: behold what is required: what prevents me from being baptized?  Where the will is ready, there is no obstacle: for He that calls us, loves mankind, the minister is at hand, and the grace is abundant.  Let the desire be sincere, and every obstacle will vanish.  There is only one to hinder us, he who blocks up the path of salvation, but whom by prudence we can overcome.  He causes us to tarry: let us rise to the work; he deludes us by vain promises: let us not be ignorant of his devices.  For does he not suggest to commit sin today, and persuade us to defer justice till tomorrow?  Wherefore the Lord, to defeat his perverse suggestions, says to us: “Today, if you hear my voice.”  He says: today for me, tomorrow for God.  The Lord cries out: “Today hear my voice.”  Mark the enemy: he does not dare counsel us utterly to abandon God, (for he knows that this were shocking to Christians,)* but by fraudulent stratagems he attempts to effect his purpose.  He is cunning in evil doing: he perceives that we live for the present time, and all our actions regard it.  Stealing from us, then, artfully today, he leaves us to hope for tomorrow.  Then when tomorrow comes, the wicked distributor of time appears again, claiming the day for himself, and leaving tomorrow to the Lord; and thus perpetually, by using the bait of pleasure to secure for himself the present time, and proposing the future to our hopes, he takes us out of life by surprise.

Basil of Ceasarea, Exhortation to Baptism, 5

*  Basil applies the term here to catechumens, persons professing faith in Christ, but not yet baptized.

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