St-Basil-the-Great“Gathering together the waters of the sea, as a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses” (Psalm 32:7).

If you seek to know…why there are shipwrecks, earthquakes, droughts, heavy rains, why things destructive of men are created, consider that the judgments of God are the depths and, because they are enclosed in the divine storehouses, are not easily grasped by those encountering them.

To him who believes, a promise is given by God: ‘I will give thee hidden treasures, unseen ones’ (Isaiah 45:3).

When we have been deemed worthy of knowledge face to face, we shall see also the depths in the storehouses of God.

If you will gather together the sayings in Scripture about vessels, you will better comprehend the prophetic meaning.

Those, then, who are renewed day by day and who take new wine from the true vine, are said in the Gospel to be new vessels.

But, they who have not yet put off the old man are old vessels, unable to be trusted for the reception of new wine.

For, no one puts new wine into old wineskins, lest the wine be spilt, and those skins be entirely ruined, inasmuch as they are considered worthy of no excuse hereafter, if they spill the good new wine.

New wine must be poured into fresh skins (cf. Matt. 9:17).

The new and spiritual wine and that which is glowing with the Holy Spirit, the perception of truth which never becomes old, must be put in the new man, who, because ‘he always bears about in his body the dying of Jesus’ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:10), might justly be said to be a new vessel.

‘Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of Him (Psalm 32:8).

Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, let those who are earthly minded be taught through fear.

In fact, fear is necessarily employed as introductory to true religion, but love, now taking over, brings to perfection those who have been prepared by a fear that is capable of knowledge.

To the whole earth, therefore, Scripture advises fear. ‘Let all the inhabitants of the world’ it says, ‘be in awe of him.’

Let them make every movement, as it were, whether effected by the mind or by bodily action, according to the will of God. At least I understand the words, ‘Let them be in awe of him’ in this way.

For example, let neither the eye be moved without God, nor the hand be put in motion without God, nor the heart think on things not well pleasing to God.

In short, let them be in awe of no one else, and let nothing move them except the fear of God.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 15 (on Psalm 32[33]), 5-6,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 236-238.

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