land of a rich man produced abundant harvests, and he thought
to himself: 'What am I to do? I will pull down my
barns, and build larger ones.'”
Now why did that land bear so well, when it belonged to a man who would make
no good use of its fertility?
It was to show more clearly the forbearance of
God, whose kindness extends even to such people as this. “He sends rain on
both the just and the unjust, and makes the sun rise on the wicked and the good
But what do we find in this man? A bitter disposition, hatred of other people,
unwillingness to give. This is the return he made to his Benefactor. He forgot
that we all share the same nature; he felt no obligation to distribute his surplus
to the needy.
His barns were full to bursting point, but still his miserly heart
was not satisfied. Year by year he increased his wealth, always adding new crops
to the old. The result was a hopeless impasse: greed would not permit him to
part with anything he possessed, and yet because he had so much there was no
place to store his latest harvest.
Is not his cry like that of one hard pressed by poverty? What am I to do?
And so he was incapable of making a decision
and could find no escape from his anxiety. What am I to do?
Who would not pity a man so oppressed? His land yields him no profit but only
sighs; it brings him no rich returns but only cares and distress and a terrible
helplessness. He laments in the same way as the poor do.
Is not his cry like
that of one hard pressed by poverty? What am I to do? How can I find food
You who have wealth, recognize who has given you the gifts you have received.
Consider yourself, who you are, what has been committed to your charge, from
whom you have received it, why you have been preferred to most other people.
are the servant of the good God, a steward on behalf of your fellow servants.
Do not imagine that everything has been provided for your own stomach. Take decisions
regarding your property as though it belonged to another.
Possessions give you
pleasure for a short time, but then they will slip through your fingers and be
gone, and you will be required to give an exact account of them.
What am I to do? It would have been so easy to say: “I
will feed the hungry, I will open my barns and call in all
the poor. I will imitate Joseph in proclaiming my good will
toward everyone. I will issue the generous invitation: ‘Let
anyone who lacks bread come to me. You shall share, each according
to need, in the good things God has given me, just as though
you were drawing from a common well’.”
on Riches, Courtonne, pages 15-19)
Basil the Great (c.330-379),
one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers, received an excellent
education and began a career as a rhetorician before a spiritual
awakening led him to receive baptism and become a monk.
visiting ascetics in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia,
he decided that it was better for monks to live together
in monasteries than alone as hermits, and he set about organizing
Cappadocian monasticism. Basil’s Rules influenced Saint Benedict.
370 Basil succeeded Eusebius as bishop of Caesarea. His main
concern was for the unity of the Church, and he strove
to establish better relations between Rome and the East.
His efforts bore fruit only after his death.
include dogmatic, ascetic, and pedagogic treatises as well
as letters and sermons.
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