Monday, April 18, 2016

The God of the Poor

   So, what’s a former student political activist doing preaching with Bible in hand?  Somewhere along her nationalistic journey, she found preachers who gave her a copy of the Bible and offered her a free Bible study. 

   In the course of her study, which lasted almost three years, she learned that the Heavenly Father she prayed to in Catholic school, actually has a name, Jehovah.  Then she read that Jehovah is pro-poor of all nations, not just the poor of Israel.  Below are some of the Bible text that convinced the activist, who was trained to sell socialism as the only hope for the Filipino poor.

“If you lend money to anyone poor of my people, someone who is dwelling with you, you must not become like a moneylender to him. You must not charge him interest.”

The best way to exploit the cash-strapped poor is to offer a loan then squeeze them for life. 

“You are to sow your land with seed and gather its produce for six years.  But the seventh year you should leave it uncultivated and let it lie fallow, and the poor among your people will eat of it,”

Jehovah set up the rules to allow the landless get to own the landowner’s farm every 7th year.  

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you must not reap the edge of your field completely and you must not pick up the gleaning of your harvest.  Also, you must not gather the leftovers of your vineyard or pick up the scattered grapes of your vineyard. You should leave them for the poor and the foreign resident. I am Jehovah your God.”

Aside from the 7th year provision, every harvest provided for the poor in a process called ‘gleaning’, which means gathering leftover grain or other produce after a harvest.  

“You must not defraud your fellow man, and you must not rob. You should not withhold the wages of a hired worker all night until morning.”

Note that withholding the wage overnight is linked to defrauding the laborer.  In today’s labor system, wages are given out every two weeks or 15 days.  If a company has footprints in several states, employing for example 200 thousand, the wages from day one to fifteen would accumulate a load of money in interest that the companies get to keep when the employee receives his pay without interest.  This money keeping is exploitation on top of exploitation.

“When evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his man in charge, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ When the 11th-hour men came, they each received a de·narʹi·us. So when the first came, they assumed that they would receive more, but they too were paid at the rate of a de·narʹi·us. On receiving it, they began to complain against the master of the house and said, ‘These last men put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’ But he said in reply to one of them, ‘Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a de·narʹi·us, did you not?  Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as to you.  Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?’ In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last”

Some would say that the Exodus and Leviticus are Mosaic Laws that have become obsolete when Jesus amended most of them.  The Matthew 20:8-16 is quoted from Jesus’ teaching and seems to be a further advancement to the above mentioned Mosaic labor laws.  The verses shows that God prefers to give “to each according to his need” and not simply according to the hours worked.  

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