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Basil the Great Addresses the Rich

August 2nd, 2022 | 1 min read

By Jake Meador

St Basil:

Since, then, the wealth still overflows, it gets buried underground, stashed away in secret places. For (they say), “what’s to come is uncertain, we may face unexpected needs.” Therefore it is equally uncertain whether you will have any use for your buried gold; it is not uncertain, however, what shall be the penalty of inveterate inhumanity. For when you failed, with your thousand notions, wholly to expend your wealth, you then concealed it in the earth. A strange madness, that, when gold lies hidden with other metals, one ransacks the earth; but after it has seen the light of day, it disappears again beneath the ground. From this, I perceive, it happens to you that in burying your money you bury also your heart. “For where your treasure is,” it is said, “there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). This is why the commandments cause sorrow; because they have nothing to do with useless spending sprees, they make life unbearable for you. And it seems to me that the sickness of this young man, and of those who resemble him, is much like that of a traveller, who, longing to visit some city and having just about finished his way there, lodges at an inn outside the walls, where, upon some trifling impulse, he is averted, and so both makes his previous effort useless, and deprives himself of a view of the wonders of the city. And of such a nature are those who engage to do the other commandments, then turn around for the sake of gathering wealth.

Jake Meador

Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).

Topics:

Economics