Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Questioning God: Habakkuk 1 with poem by Habakkuk, Wall Street, 600 B.C.

Daily Readings
Sirach 32:24-33:35, Jeremiah 44, Habakkuk 1, Baruch 5

Daily Text: Habakkuk 1

Questioning God
Habakkuk (1) is a man of a different stripe. Most prophets challenge the people they are sent to. Habakkuk, like Job, questions God [cf. 533:47]. He complains that those who are evil surround and oppress and make a mockery of justice. “Why,’ he asks? When God responds that he has engaged the Chaldeans to bring his own judgment on Judah, Habakkuk strikes back with a response that this is unsatisfactory. “Why (O, Lord) do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?” Having challenged God this second time, Habakkuk waits for YHWH’s answer (Hab. 2:1).

Verse 11 is a very difficult passage. Most translators treat it as if it were a continuation of the oracle, however, J. M. M. Roberts [531:90 ff] makes a strong case for the verse being the prophet’s response to God’s word. Robert’s translation is as follows:
Then the spirit passed on,
it departed, and I was astonished:
“This one (takes) his might as his god!”
Note that to be ‘astonished’ fits exactly with God’s prediction in vs. 5, the beginning of God’s words. Read that way, it becomes a transition for the prophet’s challenge to YHWH. What a man Habakkuk must have been. He faithfully presents God’s words to his people, and at the same time publically questions them. He must have been as terrified as he was courageous.

Wall Street, 600 B.C.

They take up all of them with the angle,
they catch them in their net,
and gather them in their drag;
therefore they sacrifice unto their net,
and burn incense unto their drag;
because by them their portion is fat,
and their meat plenteous.

Collect for the Day
O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all wo need human love and fellowship; narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife.

Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-bock to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power. God make the door of this house the gateway to thine eternal kingdom

[286:73:211 on St. Stephen’s Walbrook, London. Bishop Thomas Ken, 1637-1711]


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