Saint Basil on Usury and Debt

Here we present some timeless words of Saint Basil the Great on Usury and Debt. Let us all think on them in parallel with the situation we experience in our times.

Saint Basil the Great wrote in his commentary on Psalm 14:

(…) The Lord has laid a clear command on us, saying: ‘And from him who would borrow of thee, do not turn away” (Matt 5:42)… the avaricious person… does not pity one who is suffering misfortune beyond his desert; he takes no account of his nature; he doe not yield to his supplications; but, rigid and harsh he stands, yielding to no entreaties, touched by no tears, preserving in his refusal… But when he who is seeking the loan makes mention of interest and names his securities, then, pulling down his eyebrows, he smiles and remembers somewhere or other a family friendship, and calling him associate and fried, he says, ‘We shall see if we have any money at all reserved.’.. he binds them with contracts.

(…) If he had been able to make you richer, why would he have sought your doors? Coming for assistance he found hostility… It was your duty to relieve the destitution of the man, but you, seeing to drain the desert dry, increased his need. Just as is some physician, visiting sick, instead of restoring health to them would take away even their little remnant of bodily strength, so you also would make the misfortunes of the wretched an opportunity of revenue… Do you know that you are making an addition to your sin greater that the increase to your wealth, which you are planning from the interest?

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(…) Whenever you have the intention of providing for a poor man for the Lord’s sake, the same thing is both a gift and a loan, a gift because of the expectation of no repayment, but a loan because of the great gift of the Master who pay in his place, and who, receiving trifling things through a poor man, will give great things in return for them. “He that hath mercy on the poor length to God.” (Prov. 19:17)… Give the money,… without weighing it down with additional charges, and it will be good for both of you…. The Lord will pay the interest for the poor… The interest, which you take, is full of extreme inhumanity. You make a profit from misfortune, you collect money from tears, you strangle the naked, you beat the famished; nowhere is there mercy, no thought of relationship with the sufferer…

(…) Do not give your money at interest, on order that, having been taught what is good from the Old and the New Testament, you may depart to the Lord with good hope, receiving there the interest from your good deeds, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power forever.

αρχείο λήψης (1)

(…) ‘Drink water out of thy own cistern.’ (Prov. 5:15) that is, examine your own resources… Borrowing is the beginning of falsity; an opportunity for ingratitude, for senseless pride… When you have borrowed you will not be rich, and you will be deprived of freedom. He who borrows is the slave of his creditor, a slave serving for pay

(…) He who owes is both poor and full of worries, sleepless by night, sleepless by day, anxious at all times; now he is putting a value on his own possessions, now on the costly houses, the fields of the rich, the clothing of chance comers, the table furnishing of those entertaining

(…) How many men, after building castles in the air , have as their only benefit, a loss beyond measure?

 

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