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Social Justice by Basil the Great

On Social Justice by Basil the Great


Basil the Great was born in 329 in Caesarea. He is one of the three Cappadocian fathers. The other two being Gregory of Nyssa, his brother, and Gregory of Nazianzus, known as the Theologian, his friend. Together they combated the Arian and Apollinarian heresies. Basil’s father was a lawyer and orator while his uncle was a bishop. His sister, St. Macrina, had an immense influence on him choosing the ascetic life. Two of his brothers became bishops: Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste. Basil received education in law and oratory in Athens where he befriended Gregory of Nazianzus. Later, Basil would become a monastic. Basil eventually became metropolitan of Cappadocia with a few bishops assisting him. He successfully led the flock to Christ, protected it from the Arian heresy and established philanthropy centers that cared for the poor, sick and sojourners. He reposed in the Lord on January 1st, 379.


Basil delivered these homilies during a time of famine and drought. He advises the rich to give to the poor. Basil accuse the rich who keep more than what they need in their storehouses of robbing the poor of what is rightly theirs. Basil invokes the rich to lend their money to God by giving the poor rather than lending the money to the less fortunate at interest or to banks.


The book consists of four sermons by Basil and a fifth homily that was attributed to Basil yet it is highly unlikely that it was written by him.

  • To the Rich
  • I Will Tear Down My Barns
  • In Time of Famine and Drought
  • Against Those Who Lend at Interest
  • The Pseudo-Basilian Homily: On Mercy and Justice

We live in an age filled with social justice warriors. With racism and oppression continuing to exist in the world and amidst the shouting and name calling, Basil comes from the fourth century to offer us a new and a Christian way of thinking about justice. This book shows the reader how Christians around the fourth century interpreted social justice. Social justice was not the result of promoting a political agenda but rather the manifestation of divine love to all of humanity where there is no difference between the poor and rich in the eyes of God and the Church but all are one in Christ.

This book will change your views on social justice and give you new perspectives other than the ones the political world imposes on you today. Here you will see how Christians are called to change the world. Christian social justice is a form of love in which the poor and oppressed are received as sons and daughters of the King of Kings and are given the privilege of identifying as the brothers and sisters of Christ. When we see the poor and homeless in such light, we will not hesitate to stretch out a helping hand that the poor may be filled, and the world may be transformed as the manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

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