St Basil, Economics, and Hospitality

My husband recently passed his CPA exams and serves our community as the city tax collector. He has an icon of St Zacchaeus in his office, gifted by his mother when he got the job 7 years ago. He and I often have conversations about economics, the faith, and charity. We often wonder about the Orthodox stance on large savings accounts, tax shelters, off shore accounts, and participating in a consumption driven economy.

Book cover: On Social Justice homilies by St Basil the Great

Justice and Charity

We read this book in July for the Orthodox Christian Book Club group on FB and had many insightful interviews about St Basil and his homilies, including from Fr Paul Abernathy, Mother Katherine Weston, and Fr Cassian Sibley.

From St Basil we learned that Christian Justice has everything to do with creating economic equality by distributing wealth, not hoarding it, with the intention that it will reflect our spiritual equality.

The Rich and the Poor

St Basil writes that it is the responsibility of the rich to make the poor equal. That there will be economic disparities, but that Christians should give their wealth so that others have equal access to the same necessities. The poor should practice patience in receiving this care from the wealthy.

The Poor in Spirit

Charity and hospitality go hand in hand. Do we refuse to see the face of Christ in the poor and suffering? Do we judge them for their economic status? Do we care for the sick? Do we accommodate the chronically ill or reach out to them in our parishes?

Book cover: Hospitality for Healing by Mat. Melissa Naasko

Hospitality

This new publication by Park End Books, written by Matushka Melissa Naasko gives practical advice about caring for those who need it. She specifically address the care for the sick or those suffering from chronic illness.

Gathering of Wealth

St Basil said, “When wealth is scattered in the manner 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.”

Mosaic of St Basil the Great [(11th century) Public Domain Image]

St Andronicus and St Athanasia of Egypt

We can take this Egyptian couple’s pattern of charity as a humble example of using wealth to benefit others. This couple (c.500AD) gave:

• 1/3 to the poor

• 1/3 to the church

• kept 1/3 for their family to live upon

Icon image of St Andronicus and St Athanasia at this site.

At the death of their two children, they gifted the remainder of their wealth to found a hospital and monastic house. They both then entered monastic homes and eventually found each other after 12 years. You can learn more about their lives from Charlotte Riggle’s blog here.

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