Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Met Antonios (el-Souri): The Rights of the Poor

 Arabic original here.

The Rights of the Poor

"For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise." (Psalm 12:5)

Those called poor are those who do not have what is sufficient for them or the destitute who do not possess anything, just as it can be said of the subjugated, weak and humiliated. In other words, the poor are those who are in need of the necessities of life and who have no support from people. They are the ones who are controlled and enslaved by people with authority and money. Poverty does not depend on the lack of material things, since there are those who like wise opinion, courage or knowledge of the truth and there are those who are weak and humiliated before those who subjugate them, not only by controlling their material needs, but also by controlling the positions that they demand of them and their social, political or other ambitions...

There exist, then, two kinds of poor: 1) those who lack food, drink and the necessities of life and 2) those who lack the truth. The Lord is the savior and support of the first kind and the Lord is the chastiser and judge of the second kind. The great misfortune is when this two sorts of poverty are found together in a person or group!

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Is there anyone who can save the poor, give them their rights and give them back their humanity that has been trampled by the feet of oppressors, tyrants, monopolists and hypocrites?! Who is this just ruler and what are his attributes?

He is one who "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."

"... He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears, but with righteousness He shall judge the poor..." (Isaiah 11:-25). The Lord alone is the Just Judge and one who believes in God and has been given the authority of judgment must know that if he does not judge according to the fear of God and by the spirit of the divine word, then this judgment of his will become eternal condemnation against him. Authority is given to humans to achieve God's will, the foundation of which is carrying out justice for the poor, the destitute and the marginalized. But if the ruler becomes more tyrannical and does not incline his ear to the poor people who live by struggle, toil and hardship, and the cry of the needy continues to rise up to God's ears, then God shall "destroy the multitude of the insolent, and breaks the scepters of the unrighteous" (Sirach 35:23) and their wealth shall "dry up like a river" (Sirach 40:13).

Everyone who holds authority is required by God to make it bear fruit in truth, whether they realize it or not. The danger to those holding authority and money is for them to fall into themselves, that is, for them to believe that they govern people's fates and to think that they are gods, even if they do not admit it openly, their deeds, words and thoughts reproach them before the judgment seat of the Most High. Look at what happened to Herod, when he delighted in the flatterers who said "This is the voice of a god, not the voice of a man!" (Acts 12:22), the Lord did not wait for him to answer, since "immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:23). The worm is the passions that eat away at man from within because he comes to be in a state of constant hunger that can only be sated by the dust of the grave and his pain is the spiritual death that puts him far from God, even if he follows the letter of the law, since his heart is lost to his pride and egotism.

O rulers, "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets," says the Lord. And you, O believers, be sincere in your faith, upright in your life, depart from evil, "'Return to Me,' says the Lord of hosts, 'and I will return to you'" (Zechariah 1:3).


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