Today in the Gospel according to St. Luke, we find Jesus well on his journey toward the cross. He is strong. He is outspoken. He is fearless.
His mission is clear. His message is clear. He is determined.
Jesus knows that there are those who fear him and want him dead. He also knows that there are those people, who want to hide him and protect him and keep him for themselves. But God has another plan.
In our Gospel, The Pharisees come to Jesus panicked, because they know that Herod is looking for Jesus and wants to kill him.
But Jesus responds very coolly and cleverly.
Go and tell that fox for me, that I’m busy, I have other things to do besides being afraid of Herod.....A Fox you say?
I had to do a little research of what he was trying to reference here, because a bit later in the reading, he references a Hen gathering her children, and as we all know, Fox and Chickens do not mix. So what does this mean?
A fox seems like a cute creature. Not really a dog or a cat, but a sort of felinish creature. Sort of weasel. They aren’t very big or strong. Cute, sly, and cleaver. But they are Deadly. A fox is a opportune killer. They kill whatever is the easiest to pick off. Such as Ducklings, kit rabbits, and chicks. Baby things. Helpless things. They kill the small, the weak, the unfortunate, the innocent. They run from danger, but return in the quiet shadows to kill.
So why would Jesus be calling Herod a Fox? I think it is because this Herod like his father before him , has ordered the innocent, the meek, the unfortunate, etc. to be slain out of fear of God. He kills just in case, Jesus might be in those he has ordered to be killed. He kills out of Fear, born out of guilt.
Jesus’s response to the Pharisees is amazingly calm and cool. “Go tell that cowardly idiot, that I’m busy performing great miracles and I’m headed straight for Jerusalem where I will full fill my earthly journey.
It’s an interesting response because he already knows what the future is. He already knows what is going to happen, and he knows why it’s going to happen. He knows he is going to die. He knows the end isn’t going to be pleasant.
Then He continues in the last few lines of the Gospel this morning with the words: Jerusalem, Jerusalem.
Why say the name twice? And How did he say them? What was the tone of his voice? Remember that Jerusalem is the Holy City, the city of David, The City of God. Jerusalem is the Site of temple worship and Pilgrimage for the Jewish people. It is a sacred place.
I think that Jesus, by saying the name twice: Jerusalem, Jerusalem in a solemn, almost mournful tone. The way in which he says these lines, it clearly has filled him with great emotional pain and conflict. It is indicating his sadness that it is in this beloved city, that needless, cowardly murders are happening to the prophets and holy people, and he shames the officials by saying “The city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it”. He alludes to his arrival and crucifixion. He is foreshadowing that this beloved city, His beloved city, the City of God, will be the city, that kills the Son of God. Oh the Irony.
So what can we take from our readings today?
So many things really. My thoughts drifted from political comments, to cultural comments but in the end they came back to Lent.
Lent is upon us. It’s a time to nurture the process of letting go of our daily trappings of life and be “reflective and attentive to God’s Spirit speaking to us within” (Dr. Joyce Peasgood).
We are walking along side of Jesus as he is making his journey toward Jerusalem. He takes us right with him. He is our mother hen and we are his chicks. We see his greatness. We feel his fear when he is praying to his father in the garden the night before he is crucified. We watch with horror, as he is marched through the streets of Jerusalem, and stones are thrown at him. Jesus takes us with him. He is the ultimate Role Model on sacrificing life for God.
But how we approach Our life with Christ as our center is the personal introspective dilemma each of us face.
In the old days, Lent was a time when we gave something up. Chocolate, coffee, desserts, etc. However, these days, we are being encouraged to take something up, as Bishop Warner used to say.
As a result, of taking something up, what we are really doing is giving up our time, which I know for me, is always precious and in short supply, so Taking something up, can be a personal sacrifice.
All those time obligations we commit to, are the Foxes in our lives. They demand our attention, our skills, our efforts and our energy, often times leaving us depleted and feeling empty. They rob us from spending time praying or mediating or simply being in God’s Spirit. They often keep us from serving our Lord.
If we like Christ, were to say, Time Commitment Foxes, Get away from me, I’m busy serving God right now by praying, by helping someone, by serving others, by studying the Word, or in simple quiet reflection time with God, Then we would be telling that time Fox, who zaps so much from us, to step aside, and go somewhere else, because we have more important things to do on our journey with Christ.
Of course, this is always so much easier said then, done. I know for me, I am constantly failing at this. The Fox wins a lot.
But that’s okay, because I know Jesus understands, and gives me another chance with another sunrise.
This lent, as we continue our journey with Christ, I pray that we all will hold fast to our faith, walk in his ways, and know that when our enemies like the Fox are upon us, we will sing of God’s greatness, speak of his love, stand in the defense of those in need, comfort those in pain, and praise his name forever, and ever. Amen