One of my favorite axioms from my “first life” as a high school French teacher is what in English is translated as: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I saw that quote as I was reading the biography of St. Basil the Great, generally considered to be the father of Eastern monasticism as well as a Doctor of the Church. Living early in the Christian era (329-379), he was known for both his theological brilliance and his care for the poor and downtrodden. It was in the commentary that the above quote appears, pointing up the work of Basil in dealing with the same problems of the Church today, such as “the need for reform, organization, fighting for the poor, maintaining balance and peace in misunderstanding.” It all reminded me of Pope Francis who continues to surprise the world with his statements and actions toward the same goals. I could hear Francis at his most urgent, uttering the words of Basil that concluded the commentary – words worthy of our reflection today.
The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.