How much? Too much!
He said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
I am so thankful that we have joined together in worship this Sunday.
St. Basil the Great wrote a homily of about thirty pages in seven sections on today’s gospel. St. Basil took the time and the effort because the issue of social justice and equitable distribution was not just important to him, but was much more so, important to God.
Basil famously wrote: Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? The bread which you hold back belongs to the hungry; the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear mouldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. The silver that you keep hidden in a safe place belongs to the one in need. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong.
Basil saw the accumulation of things as theft. If one takes and stores up more than what is necessary one is stealing from those in need.
Basil also saw the provision of earthly goods as a test. He recalled that Saintly Job had a lot. The question, What would happen when it was all taken? Scripture tells us that throughout his suffering and loss Job never lost faith, never rejected God.
The harder temptation is to have much. Having much, over abundance, is a test as well. The question, What would happen if we have much and more again? The rich man in the parable is not judged until his riches and stuff become his faith. The rich man relies only on himself so his life is demanded of him.
In Basil’s diocese of Caesarea, he created the Basilidad. It was a community of prayer that saw to the needs of the sick and dying, the starving and naked. Those who worked there, ordinary people and religious, gave up that extra coat, those shoes in the closet, the bread, and the silver to do God’s work. They shared what they had equitably. Others saw it and gave generously. We have an abundantly generous family here. We are a mini-Basilidad in seeing to the needs of our community and that is why we are blessed.
Yet, we must always be careful and aware of the test. Let’s try an experiment. Let us look at our closets – do we need extra storage space (larger barns). Try to count every article of clothing we have. How many days could we go without needing to do laundry? If our conscience calls to us, let us do what we can help another with what we have in abundance.