Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fr. Georges Massouh on a Politician's Funeral

Originally published in an-Nahar. The Arabic original can be found here. I'll translate Met. Georges' sermon sooner or later.

A Prophet of this Time

Metropolitan Georges Khodr's sermon for the funeral of the late deputy Farid Habib is a study in political ethics,which perhaps will find attentive ears and responsive hearts. The speaker addressed his words to those present, and especially to the politicians among them, and not to the one who is departed. He preached to them the Word of God within the contemporary context. As for the departed, he only has prayer and supplication, that mercy and tenderness will come down upon him from God. Metropolitan Khodr wanted his sermon to be "a reminder" about the task of politicians and their lofty mission. "    So remind them, you are only one who reminds.You are not a dictator over them" (Surat al-Ghashiya: 21-22).

Metropolitan Khodr addresses the reposed the departed deputy by saying that the Lebanese people had entrusted him, "as it appears, to be in parliament. However, in the joy that we anticipate, we chose you for truth." With these words, he wanted to direct the attention of the members of parliament who were present to the fact that they will be judged according to the measure that they were faithful to the truth in their task of representing the people in parliament. So Christ "wants us to have a pure and sublime political presence." Then Metropolitan Khodr criticized the "Lebanese deceitfulness," which "those who have mastered it have no fear of God and are thus not our representatives for the truth."

It is as though Metropolitan Khodr wanted to put those reponsible for the state before the divine reckoning that is forgotten by most people, especially since he did not rely much on the Lebanese people's reckoning for their representatives, since he said in this regard, "I do not know if the Lebanese are prepared to realize this, or if they know it but do not want it, because this will does away with the interests and the pacts of liars." These words are not a declaration of despair over the power of the Lebanese to choose "pure and righteous men" so much as it is a call for general repentance by the Lebanese, and chiefly by those responsible for the state.

In these circumstances that the Arab countries, including Lebanon, are going through, as religious and sectarian strife rears its head in every direction, come the words of Metropolitan Georges Khodr. It is a prophetic voice, crying out in the wilderness of this country. It is a prophetic voice that does not fear authority and is no respecter of persons. The prophets were not government intellectuals of sultans' secretaries. They were not court priests. They were the voice of God and spoke His will, however high the cost of declaring it and calling for it to be applied was. What is meant here by the prophetic voice, according to Christian theology, is when God reminds the Church and society through the voice of one who fears Him of their responsibility toward each other and towards God.

We may say that the spirit of Isaiah, of Elijah, of John the Baptist, the prophets who proclaimed the truth, was within then metropolitan when he called upon those responsible for the state to work for the sake of truth, and for the repentance, peace, and compassion that result from it... This requires putting an end to the satanic deceitfulness that dominates politians and has caused continuous sectarian strife for the past hundred and fifty years.

Those Khodr says, "Lebanon is not a political structure. It is a project of love." Love alone-- and love is the name of God in Christianity-- will put an end to deceitfulness.

Within the Orthodox Church, especially at the Russian tsar's court, there was a type of saints who were "fools for God" who would stand before the tsar and princes, castigating them for their sins and their negligence in serving the poor and needy. These fools for God were the nation's prophets in their time, since they did not fear what other people feared: speaking the truth in the face of unjust authority. Metropolitan Khodr, a fool for God, is the prophet of this time. May God grant you many years, beloved master!

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