Chrysostom on Economics


“Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality im­posed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first—and then they will joyfully share their wealth.”

~ On Living Simply


  1. We discussed this gem somewhere on facebook and we realized that no one was able to source it beyond this very unique translation. I hope it is somewhere in the writings of this Great Hierarch and Ecumenical Teacher, for I fully subscribe to its profound philosophy.

    You could have called this entry, Chrysostom Refutes Occupy Wall Street.

  2. There are a few really good quotes within that book that are yet to be sourced on the net. This philosophy in the quote can apply to all sorts of things within our culture, including the very separation of social ministry from the Church, and how it is given to the government to manage.

  3. It is not the “distribution” and “equality” of society that Christ is necessarily concerned about. What he is concerned about is US giving up ourselves, and THEM receiving this selfless gift. For the CHURCH to give their lives to the poor is a symbolic gesture of the gospel itself. It is preaching in action rather than words. Secular government can only harm the poor when they give their handouts and “rehabilitation.” For every life they save, many more are ruined by their godless system.

  4. Thank you for providing this quote. I have believed this for a long time and never knew I was in agreement with one of the greatest saints in the Church’s history. Now I just need to keep praying for the heart to live this ideal. I am so poluted by the American style of materialism. Please pray for me and all Christians in America.

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