Scripture Focus: Habakkuk 2.15-17
15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, 
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, 
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies! 
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. 
Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! 
The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, 
and disgrace will cover your glory. 
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, 
and your destruction of animals will terrify you. 
For you have shed human blood; 
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

Reflection: Woe to Abusers and Victimizers
By John Tillman

Habakkuk describes the host of a party who betrays his neighbors by getting them drunk and then taking sexual advantage of them. This story has a chillingly familiar ring. 

The details could be copied from today’s headlines. It is similar to reports of heinous actions exposed during the #MeToo era. The betrayal goes beyond the sexual element. These people were neighbors who trusted their host and accepted drinks poured by his hand. Only afterward did they realize the person they thought was friendly was victimizing them. What seemed like generosity was selfishness and what seemed like hospitality was making them hostages to the host’s lust.

No era has ever been without sexual abuse and sin. However, this description by Habakkuk is metaphorical. The scene he paints is about a larger, worldwide pattern of abuse. The host in this metaphor is Babylon. Nations who allied themselves politically with Babylon bought into the hype of Babylon’s greatness and superiority. They thought they were guests at this party enjoying the wealth and spoils of Babylon’s reign, but actually, they were just victims lured into a trap. They were eventually despoiled and humiliated.

When we sip from the cup of empires, we will be dominated and controlled by them. It’s easy for us to be suckered and find ourselves victims of those who at first seem to be on our side. Whenever and wherever we live there are and will be those who will seek to take advantage of us.

Babylon, like Nineveh, was a city built on bloodshed and humiliation. Habakkuk proclaimed that exactly what was done by Babylon to others would be done to them in return. God will bring justice to victimizers and abusers. All the wickedness they think they have gotten away with will be exposed. They will be the ones naked and exposed and shamed. Let us pray for that day.

Let us pray that all victims, nations, groups, and individuals will see justice fall on their abusers and victimizers. Let us pray that abusers’ defenses and excuses and denials will be stripped from them. Let us pray that all victims would find shelter, acceptance, care, and healing in the arms of the church. 

And finally, let us pray that we will be wise and discerning, not easily falling into the traps set by those who would take sexual, spiritual, or political advantage of us. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me!

Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 2 (Listen – 3:20)
Mark 7 (Listen – 4:28)

Read more about Beyond Consent
Our culture has groomed many of us to accept the idea that the “freedom” of unlimited sexual experiences is harmless

Read more about Degrading Each Other
As the #MeToo movement sweeps around the world, Jesus stands with the victims, claiming their pain as his own…