Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Knowing" God

The Old Testament is clear regarding the close relationship between God and the neighbor.  This relationship is a distinguishing characteristic of the God the Bible.  To despise one's neighbor (Prov. 14:21), to exploit the humble and the poor worker, and to delay the payment of wages, is to offend God. . .(Deut. 24:14-15; Exod. 22:21-23).  This explains why "a man who sneers at the poor insults his maker: (Prov. 17:5).

Inversely, to know, that is to say, to love Yahweh, is to do justice to the poor and oppressed.  When Jeremiah proclaimed the New Covenant, after asserting that Yahweh would inscribe the law in the hearts of human beings, Jeremiah said:  "No longer need they teach one another to know the Lord; all of them, high and low alike, shall know me (31:34).  But Jeremiah advises us exactly on what knowing God entails:  "Shame on the man who builds his house by unjust means, and completes its roof-chambers by fraud, making his countrymen work without payment, giving them no wage for their labor!  Shame on the man who says, 'I will build a spacious house with airy roof-chambers, let windows in it, panel it with cedar, and paint it with vermilion'! If your cedar is more splendid, does that prove you are a king?  Think of your father:  he ate and drank, dealt justly and fairly; all went well with him.  He dispensed justice to the cause of the lowly and poor; did this not show he knew me? says the Lord" (22:13-16). Where there is justice and righteousness, there is knowledge of Yahweh; when these are lacking, it is absent. . . .To know Yahweh, which in Biblical language is equivalent to saying to love Yahweh, is to establish just relationships among persons, it is to recognize the rights of the poor.  . . .When justice does not exist, God is not known; God is absent (pages 110-111).

A Theology of Liberation
Gustavo Gutierrez

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good words. True words.