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Reflections on the Gospel, Week before February 24, 2013

Luke 13:31-35

31At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

What I am Learning:

Jesus' leadership put him in danger. Herod wanted him dead. Why?

In Jesus' day theology and politics and economics were part of the same public life - one reflected on the others. If you differed in theology with someone, you probably had a different view of politics and economics. When Jesus taught about the nearness of the "kingdom of God" he was talking about replacing the kingdom of Caesar and his client-king Herod. Herod wasn't amused and wanted Jesus dead.

But it's not so different today. Those who believe in a rigid and judgmental God of Rules often have different political and economic views of those who don't.

Jesus calls Herod "that old fox." This is a first century put down. It's like calling someone a "rat." Foxes steal from nests, from farmers and they prey on the vulnerable. Jesus is unwilling to change his itinerary because he is suddenly in danger. He has known that all along. He has accepted it.

He is on his way to Jerusalem to face it even more deeply.

He laments over Jerusalem. He notes that Jerusalem has killed many prophets. This is not Jesus (or Luke) being anti-semitic. Jesus is a Jewish person! Jerusalem is where their leaders were. It is like saying, "Washington DC is really messing up." We don't mean the city, we mean the leaders. Jesus is indicting the leaders for being unwilling to listen to God's call to participate in the reign of God.

He continues to lament, saying how he longed to draw Jerusalem's children under his wings, as a hen does.

When faced with a fox in the coup, a mother hen will often gather her chicks and stay still. She could run and save her life, but then the chicks would be vulnerable. There are stories of hens eaten by foxes at night. In the morning the chicks are sill alive under her wings.

Jesus uses this female, risking image to describe his own ministry and to describe God. (God is not a dude! Or at least not only a dude!) Jesus is willing to risk his life to save the People of Israel from the fox - from the theft and violence of Herod and his Mafia Boss, Caesar.

Having been held in an embrace like that, we become able to welcome others into the warm embrace of Jesus. We become able to extend our small wings to protect those who are made vulnerable by political and economic systems that prey on the vulnerable. . . because we have been loved.