meet quarterly close to the solstice and equinox.
Year C, Proper 22
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary Revised
Common Lectionary (Gospel Theme Track)
Year C, Proper 26
Revised Common Lectionary (Semi-Continuous Track)
Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Reading
1:1-6 (7-11) 12-13; 2:1-4
|The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you "Violence!"
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrong-doing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention
So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous –
therefore judgment comes
Look at the nations, and see!
Be astonished! Be astounded!
For a work is being done in your days
that you would not believe
if you were told.
For I am rousing the Chaldeans,
that fierce and impetuous
who march through the breadth of the earth
to seize dwellings not
Dread and fearsome are they;
their justice and dignity
proceed from themselves.
Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more menacing than wolves
their horses charge.
Their horsemen come from far away;
they fly like an eagle
swift to devour.
They all come for violence,
with faces pressing
they gather captives
At kings they scoff,
and of rulers they make
|They laugh at every fortress,
and heap up earth to
Then they sweep by like the wind;
they transgress and
their own might is their
Are you not from of old,
O LORD my God, my Holy
You shall not die.
O LORD, you have marked them for judgment;
and you, O Rock, have
established them for punishment.
Your eyes are too pure to behold evil,
and you cannot look
why do you look on the treacherous,
and are silent when
the wicked swallow
those more righteous
I will stand at my watchpost,
and station myself on
I will keep watch to see what he will say
and what he will answer
concerning my complaint.
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may
For there is still a vision for the appointed
it speaks of the end,
and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come,
it will not delay.
Look at the proud!
Their spirit is not
right in them,
but the righteous live
by their faith
Reflection on Habakkuk
1:1-6 (7-11) 12-13; 2:1-4
So far as prophet Habakkuk is
concerned, and as Psalm 37 also saw, all is not right with the
world. That is clear in this short prophecy’s first section,
which is a dialogue between God and prophet (1:2-2:5).
Habakkuk’s problem is this:
How can there be one all-powerful God who “will not listen,”
“will not save,” and who remains “silent when the wicked swallow
those more righteous than they” (vv. 2, 13)? It’s so bad that
the laws are unreliable and “justice never prevails.” The tyrannical
enemy of the prophet’s people respects no standard norm of transcendent
Justice, for it worships its own power. But the God over all
power does nothing! How can this be?
God answers, in the first place,
that appearances are deceiving, incredible as that may seem.
“For I am rousing the Chaldeans” (v. 6), I God am in charge,
and I know full well that “they transgress and become guilty”
and even are blasphemous (v. 11). But for the time being God
is working through the Chaldeans to enact Justice against the
prophet’s no less unrighteous nation. The goal remains the same:
the outworking of transcendent Justice among all people.
God answers, in the second place,
that however long-deferred the working out of transcendent Justice
may be, its accomplishment is certain, and until that time the
business of the prophet and of all righteous people is to “live
by their faithfulness” (‘emunah; 2:4 and see Romans 1:17).
The frustrations that “tree
huggers” experience, the obstacles that are increasing against
ecological stewardship, the multiplication of injustices against
the poor and marginalized peoples of our world—all that amounts
to Justice withheld, and the wholeness of Shalom deferred. The
work of “the righteous” proceeds nevertheless in an attitude
of expectant watchfulness and trust in God that the promised
Justice and Peace are on their way into the realities of here
and now. There’s no way to “prove” this abstractly. All we can
do is live concretely from day to day, putting one foot in front
of the other in accord “with the grain of the universe,” as
Stanley Hauerwas puts it in his book with that title (Grand
Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2001).
There is an excellent discussion
of Habakkuk 1:2-2:5 by Elizabeth Achtemeier, Nahum-Malachi (Interpretation:
A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching; Atlanta:
John Knox Press, 1986), pp. 34-48).
on other Readings
[Standard (Episcopal) and Revised Common Lectionary]
for Year C, Proper 22
Revised Common Lectionary
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
no reflection available
Lanentations 3: 19-26 or
on other Readings
[Revised Common Lectionary]
for Year C, Proper 26
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
|New Testament Reading:
all Gospel Theme Track readings for this day
Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attended Trinity Episcopal
Church, Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection
in 2003. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your
comments or additional reflections to John
Gibbs or any MEESC
member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
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Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA
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