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WEALTH




THE USE OF WEALTH

Is wealth meant to drape yourself in expensive clothing when a long tunic and a cloak are all you need? What need is there for gourmet food when one loaf is enough to fill the stomach? So why do you run after wealth? Is it the glory that comes from it? But isn’t true glory that which leads to the kingdom of God?

For most souls, it would be a lovely thing to be rich even if it brought absolutely no benefits. But we all know that it is foolish to be enthusiastic about useless things.

Listen, Christian soul. Wealth lasts longer if it is distributed to the needy; if it is hoarded, it is lost. If you hold on to it, you will lose it; if you distribute it, you will keep it. This might seem strange but its true.

How will you explain it to the Divine Judge at the end? You hung tapestries on your walls but will not clothe the naked. You decorated your house with luxuries but spurn your crippled brother. You let your corn rot in the fields but will not feed the hungry.

When you hear the words, “Sell what you possess and give to the poor,” which gives you the route to external bliss, you go away sad. But if you hear the words, “Give your money to luxurious women, to painters and mosaic craftsmen,” you are delighted.

Look at all the luxurious and architectural marvels around you. They were built while the poor were being neglected because of the commitment given to their building by the rich.

Walls and roof of any height or make serve the same purpose. One who over-decorates his walls and roof usually owns nothing more precious than what can be seen and, therefore, lavishes his attention on such soulless things while his soul remains unadorned and neglected.

Why should your spoons be of silver and couches of ivory while the poor by the thousand stand around your door, pleading with piteous voices.

What are gold, silver, topaz, beryl, agate, and sapphire, jasper and amethyst and all other gems? Are they not mere stones? Can they add one day to your life or can they spare you from death? Can they protect you from illness? Aren't they more the cause of war for which swords are sharpened and weapons forged?  Are they not the cause why members of the same family plot and murder one another? Wealth is what makes our cities breeding places of murderers, pirates, kidnappers and perjurers, the author of which is the devil.

We don't really need money to live on. Money is, in fact, the root of all evil. It does not really keep us alive; it leads us to destruction. It is the reason for greed. "If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor." (Matt. 19:21)


St. Basil the Great, Homily 7, Against the Rich

 

 

 

 

(updated 07-02-02)

 

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