Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of Luke (13: 31-35) in which Jesus says of Jerusalem, ‘How often have I have longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused ’.
Fr Paul says, this Gospel is full on about the destiny of Jesus.
Firstly, with the reference to Herod, we are given a reminder about John the Baptist’s death at the hands of Herod Antipas, and Jesus’ hostile comment on the killer of his herald and cousin – ‘that fox’. The Greek word for ‘fox’ also is the word for ‘jackal’ – and foxes do not occur in Israel, but jackals do. A jackal is a notorious scavenger, wild and uncouth, with none of the attractions of a fox. So much then is the slur for Herod.
More important is the sense that Jesus controls and faces his destiny. The time is approaching for him to accomplish the purpose of his Father; he faces it, but in his own time, and when he is ready.
In the second part of the Gospel, Fr Paul notes, we hear the agonising lament of Jesus over Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the pivot of Luke’s two books; they begin in Jerusalem at the very centre, in the Temple. The Infancy Story ends in Jerusalem also, as does his Gospel. The resurrection appearances are in Jerusalem, and it from Jerusalem that the Gospel spreads.
In Jerusalem begins the last act of the Book of Acts, when Paul is arrested there.
Jesus laments three times about the fate of Jerusalem and her unwillingness to respond to his message. Here, as he enters the city and as the women of Jerusalem weep for him (9:41-44).
Fr Paul says, Jesus must have had a real affection for the city of Jerusalem as the dwelling-place of his Father on earth – and that affection is touchingly expressed when he uses the image of the mothering hen and her chicks.
Today, Fr Paul reflects, we are mindful that the Gospel is about the destiny of Jesus.