God’s Subversive Economy

On Sunday our friend and beloved community member Vikki Marie was in hospital after cancer surgery on her lungs. Laurel stood in for the Reverend Doctor at her Roman Catholic Women Church community Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin. We are posting Laurel’s homily notes here because they relate to our community conversations on alternative economics.

In our lectionary offerings today the Epistle (1 Corinthians 15:45-49), as is often the case (or at least I think so) is a bit of an outlier, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the theme.
But it is this beautiful reflection on Adam and Jesus and consequently what it means to be human.
It’s about Adam -before this being was separated into two genders
The passage reminds us that Adam, comes from earth, soil, the land
indeed the Hebrew word Adam shares a root with Adamah the word for earth
So it’s a bit of a word play like human humus
And Adam only becomes animate through the Breath or Spirit of God
So it is a reminder that we too are earth and wind, land that breathes and acts

The rest of the lectionary readings have a more unified theme which I would call  
Doing the Unexpected to Subvert Power (it’s actually a bit of a biblical mandate)
In the Hebrew bible reading (1 Samuel 26) In the transition of kingship from Saul and David
David has the opportunity to have Saul killed, but he doesn’t do it
He has the power over his enemy but he does not use it (in recognition of another power)

In the Psalm (103) we are reminded that God does not deal with us by counting up our wrongs but rather with pardon, kindness, compassion, redemption, and mercy
Again doing the unexpected, refraining from using destructive power

Now in the gospel (Luke 6:27-38) Jesus teaches the disciples about how to respond to enemies
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
do not withhold even your tunic

Walter Wink has done some work on understanding those passages in terms of nonviolent resistance to political systems that are very much about the way the kingdom movement, the Jesus community, could do the unexpected to subvert power in occupied Palestine

(and I should say very clearly that turning the other cheek is NOT instruction for situations of intimate partner violence, this passage has been misused for a long time to perpetuate harm against women and others in abusive situations)

So what if we apply that theme, this biblical mandate: ‘do the unexpected to subvert power’ to our own lives
Think for a moment,
What are the opportunities that each of us have to ‘do the unexpected to subvert power’ or to recognize a different kind of power?

To close I want to draw attention to one aspect of this passage that we tend not to think about. These few verses of Luke are told almost completely in the language of economics:
Everyone who begs
Your goods
What credit, What credit
What credit
Expect nothing in return
Give and it will be given to you

In my own circles and pastoral relationships I connected this week with four different low-income households that are hugely impacted by debit: student loan debit, child care debit, and credit card debit.
Now most of us don’t have enemies striking our faces, or demanding our cloaks but I think most of us have experience with economics, lending, and debit.
And this kind of radical economics is in fact the pervasive theme of the Gospels. God’s Kingdom (which by the way was Jesus’ core message) could for all its economic references easily be called God’s Subversive Economy. –another example of doing the unexpected to subvert power.
I wonder how things would be different if we prayed the kingdom prayer, the divine economy prayer that Jesus taught us saying: “forgive us our debts as we forgive those who debt against us?”
How would things be different for each of those families in debt if this were a core shared value?
What if as Christians our economic relationships were a key way that we applied the biblical principle of doing the unexpected to subvert power?
What if Church institutions lent, expecting nothing in return.

And so my friends, you breathing earth, you living land let these wonderings be our prayer in the coming days. Amen.