Friday, February 19, 2016
Even under the threat of Herod, Jesus stayed the course; he kept doing what he had been doing all along. There was work to be done and courage would lead the way. We may be taken by Jesus’ persistent commitment to the goal of the kingdom even while there was so much resistance. And we may pause during Lent to think about the image he likened himself to: the hen gathering her brood under her wings. At a first glance it doesn’t seem to be a picture of courage or strength but one of great vulnerability.
At this point in the journey couldn’t Jesus have found another kind of reference, something a little more inspiring than a hen? The season of Lent offers a time to look closer at what we might otherwise pass by with a disinterested glance or a certain sophistication. It is a season for our proclamation of what is life giving and full of hope! We seek such renewal.
Maybe Jesus was trying to help us make an unlikely connection between courage and vulnerability. Maybe the image was meant to direct our thinking toward compassion and the way of the cross – the great lengths God goes to reach us in love. In Jesus’ “day in and day out” work a path was forming toward Jerusalem. Living out of his calling meant a willingness to be genuinely present for the suffering of the world.
The image of the hen brings a reassuring word to us when we feel most vulnerable, needing to find the courage to love, to do something for others even though there are no guarantees of getting anything in return.
In the flow of the gospel story the hen reminds us of the promise of gratitude and even joy. It gives us the very glimpse of resurrection life. Love is at the center of all of this and it brings about the kind of connections that carry the deepest meaning and the greatest purpose! What a powerful message for us in the church as we seek to celebrate the gift of belonging and to find our way forward by humble service.
God of the covenant, in the mystery of the cross you promise everlasting life to the world. Gather all peoples into your arms, and shelter us with your mercy, that we may rejoice in the life we share in your Son, Jesus Christ. -ELW