Friday, February 7, 2014
the cost of judgment
Good afternoon friends,
Today's reading reminds us of the double edged sword of judgment and empire. In this passage the merchants and business people mourn over the fall of the great empire. Empire has an evil drive to power that includes persecution, violence and suppression of opposing voices. At the same time, the economic power of empire brings wealth and success to many. That means when empires collapse, many people, including some who are innocent, suffer too. That suggests that we need to be careful how we invest our resources and our time. Are we intwining ourselves with oppression or are we supporting justice?
This passage also resonates with the political arguments that are made about the risks to economic growth of X, Y or Z program. Of course economic growth is important, but if we're asked to chose between economic growth and justice, for Christians the choice should be clear.
11And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, 13cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives. 14“The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your dainties and your splendor are lost to you, never to be found again!”
15The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16“Alas, alas, the great city, clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! 17For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!” And all shipmasters and seafarers, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” 19And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, the great city, where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in one hour she has been laid waste.
20Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints and apostles and prophets! For God has given judgment for you against her.” 21Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “With such violence Babylon the great city will be thrown down, and will be found no more; 22and the sound of harpists and minstrels and of flutists and trumpeters will be heard in you no more; and an artisan of any trade will be found in you no more; and the sound of the millstone will be heard in you no more; 23and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more; and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more; for your merchants were the magnates of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24And in you was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slaughtered on earth.”