Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fr Georges Massouh on the Ruler of this World and his Willing Servants

Arabic original here.

The Ruler of this World

There is nothing strange about the fact that Christ placed power as one of the most serious temptations for those who seek it, leading them to eternal perdition. Satan sought Him out and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said to Him, "I will give all of this to you if you bow down and worship me." Jesus replied, "Away with you, Satan, for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him alone shall you serve'" (Matthew 4:8-10). For the same reason, Christ said that the devil is the "ruler of this world."

The devil is still "the ruler of this world" (John 16:11). In order to maintain power or in the attempt to take possession of it, the greedy do not hesitate to commit massacres, to expel people from their homes, and to burn countries. For them, every heinous act becomes permissible. People's lives become cheap. Hundreds of thousands die slaughtered, bombed, strangled, eliminated... and the devil sits happy because he was able to make some of them willing servants of him and his lures.

Jesus says, "You cannot serve two masters, God and wealth" (Matthew 6:24). Jesus realized that wealth and power are twins and that in most cases wealth distances a person from the worship of God. If not for wealth, the combatants would not be able to do anything. They would not be able to obtain the deadly instruments of war and munitions. They would not be able to replenish their arsenals with the latest and most lethal weapons. Instead of investing wealth in the service of the poor, the needy, the sick, orphans and widows, they spend it in order to kill and annihilate them.

Power and wealth are not evil in themselves, but they become evil on account of the way in which they are used. In our churches, we pray for those who govern in the way of every good work, the the Lord will strengthen their steps in the fear of God. But the current reality and historical experience teaches us that vanishingly few rulers or those eager to rule fear God and His judgment. The ruler must be a saint in order to be free from the lures of power and wealth and not fall into temptation.

Those who justify the blood of innocent people and their immolation upon the altars of their sins and passions are not sincere. Nothing is worth more than the human person, whom God made in His image and likeness. Nothing is worth the killing of a single child and how much more so the thousands of children being killed without a dog in the fight for power! Power has become an idol upon whose altar human sacrifices are offered. They say that they worship God while in fact they worship others in His place. They worship the devil and offer up human sacrifices to him. They take pleasure in the sight of spilled blood. They give praise to the devil and join with him in the crimes and sins of their own hands. They are devil-worshipers. They are his faithful disciples. They have surpassed the devil in the ingenuity of their evil ways. They have raised paganism from its grave  and brought it back to life through their heinous deeds.

If only we were all poor, without any money other than what we need to ease our hunger and pay for our food. If only we were all poor, with no greed for the things of this world, with no desire for anything other than God's expansive mercy and all-surpassing love. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," says Jesus of Nazareth, which means that man's service to his fellow man takes precedence over serving God.

Having mercy on people is more important, in the eyes of God, than bearing witness verbally, than prayer, fasting, alms or pilgrimage. It is more important than any standard defined by faith or dogma. Mercy is the only proof that we are human and not beasts ravenous for human flesh.

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