Some may say to their fathers some to their

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04Sermo 14 de pauperum amore 25, PG 35.889.890.105 Ibid.[Vol. 34
PROBLEM OF PRIVATE PROPERTYsecure the domination of the strong over the weak, the natural equalityof the whole human race has ben completely extinguished. St. Gregoryof Nyssa admonished his listeners always to remember the originalsolidarity and equality of all men, and not to be influenced by the pre-sent state of mankind divided by inequality and ancessant strife:Support that which is according to nature with all thy strength.Honor the old freedom. Turn into thyself and relieve misery.Do not strive after earthly possessions, but try to become richby turning into thyself. Do not acquire gold, but try to increasein virtue which is the better of the two. Become more worthyof thy neighbor and more respected by him in that you are morewilling to be his fellow man, alvays ready to come to hissuccor.2°6God alone is the sole real possessor of all things we might have :107And we never want to be dishonest trustees of the goods whichare merely lent to us, so that the word of St. Peter may neverapply to us: Be ashamed you who withhold that which is notyours. Imitate God Who distributes everything equally, and noone among you will be poor.'"8St. John Chrysostom,09 in his Twelfth Homily on the First Epistleto Timothy, dealt rather thoroughly with the problem of private prop-erty and individual wealth:Tell me, wherefrom did your wealth come? Perchance fromsome other person? But to whom, then, does this other personattribute his wealth? Some may say, to their fathers, some, totheir grandfathers. But even by retracing your whole genealogy,can you prove that this wealth was acquired justly and honestly?Most assuredly, you cannot do this. On the contrary, the verybeginning of this wealth necessarily is rooted in some act of in-justice. Why? Because in the beginning God did not create oneman rich and the other man poor. He did not disclose to oneman the secret for accumulating material riches while prevent-ing the other man from discovering it. To the contrary, Godgave the earth and its resources for the benefit of all men inorder that all may possess and enjoy them. But if this one earthis the common property and possession of all men, how can itbe possible that some of you own so many acres of land, whileothers do not have even a clod of soil? You may answer me byreplying that your father left it to you. But, from whom did heinherit it? From his ancestors, I suppose. But no matter howfar we go back, we will always have to come to a beginning ofall this. Jacob was rich, but his wealth was in whatever he had106 Ibid. at 26, PG 35.891-892.107 Ibid. at 22, PG 35.885-886. Cf. ibid. at 23, PG 35.887-888, and at 29, PG35.897-898.108 Ibid. at 24, PG 35.889-890. For additional references to the problem of privateproperty and wealth, cf. ibid. at 1, PG 35.859-860; ibid. at 2, PG 35.859-860;ibid.

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