I’ve been reading through a collection of homilies on social justice by St. Basil the Great, and wanted to simply collect some of my favorite quotes. Here they are (this guy sounds like a socialist or something!):
If you had truly loved your neighbor, it would’ve occurred to you long ago to divest yourself of this wealth. But now your possessions are more a part of you than the members of your own body, and separation from them is as painful as the amputation of one of your limbs.
For if what you say is true, that you have kept from your youth the commandment of love and have given to everyone the same as yourself, then how did you come by this abundance of wealth?
St. Basil sees accumulating wealth as actually insane:
Some device has been concocted by the devil, suggesting innumerable spending opportunities to the wealthy, so that they pursue worthless and unnecessary things as though they were indispensable… I am overwhelmed even at the thought of so many contrived extravagances!
For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.
St. Basil’s theology of economics:
When wealth is scattered in the manner in which our Lord directed, it naturally returns, but when it is gathered, it naturally disperses. If you try to keep it, you will not have it; if you scatter it, you will not lose it.
St. Basil with some sharp humor in his homily “To the Rich”:
Tell me, what benefit do you acquire by waving your hand about resplendent with gems? Should you not rather blush for shame, having this strange desire for pebbles?
St. Basil commenting on the rich fool who wanted to build bigger barns for his abundant harvest:
What could be more ridiculous than this incessant toil… If you want storehouses, you have them in the stomachs of the poor. Lay up for yourself treasure in heaven.
The bread you are holding back is for the hungry, the clothes you keep put away are for the naked… the silver you keep buried in the earth is for the needy. You are thus guilty of injustice toward as many as you might have aided, and did not.