Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent: Reforming and Redeeming Colonialist Economies

Read:  Revelation 18:1-3

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor. He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.”

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Reflect

This vision of the fall of Rome, the new “Babylon,” looks to the judgment of this civilization, in its political rulers, its merchants, its shipmasters, and seafarers. The link between political rule and economics is illustrated here as is the dependence of Rome on slavery and trade. The Roman Empire was a global economy linked together by imperial rule and control of Mediterranean trade routes. It was also a colonial economy in that resources and goods and wealth moved to the politically dominant center, often in the form of tribute. The vision looks to the overthrow of this system yet also foretells redemption in Revelation 21:22-27. People will bring into the New Jerusalem “the glory and the honor of the nations”—a hint at the redemption of the political and economic order.

How can Christians act faithfully within our own global economy? Is it possible to participate without being implicated? Judgment leads to redemption, so what might the redemption of the global economic order look like?

Pray

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 825)

Author

John Bauerschmidt serves as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.