I had a tough time with the gospel this week. Most often, the passages speak to me with some clarity about living a Christian life. But it took some tossing and turning this time. This actually leads me to the first thing I am moved to reflect upon. Sometimes, we go to Mass, we go through the motions, but nothing is really making its way into our hearts.
You hear words like "Herod" and "Pharisees" and perhaps you tune out a bit-nothing to do with my life today, you might think. But this might be an opportunity to pay even closer attention to see what you might find. When I did that this time, I feel like I sort of stumbled upon a sort of hidden theme this week-freedom.
Jesus knows that part of the journey to His destiny lies in Jerusalem. And yet, he openly recounts Jerusalem’s tragic history of rejecting prophets: "you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you." But He doesn’t react with hatred and anger. Instead, He speaks of a loving desire to shield Jerusalem "as a hen gathers her brood under wing." And why can’t God and his Son protect the children of Jerusalem? Why can’t they simply make it be that everyone’s eyes are opened to the love and salvation of Christ? Why can’t Jerusalem be spared the gruesome legacy of stoning prophets? Christ tells us in three tragic words, "you were unwilling."
God can’t make the right choice for us. Perhaps more frustrating, He can’t even force us. Every moment of our day, we are given choices. And though we may not think of it in these terms, so many of these choices offer a chance to choose Christ or to turn from Him. How will I treat my friend when he has wronged me and asks my forgiveness? Will I talk about my boss behind her back? How do I react when someone cuts me off in traffic? Do I pretend not to see the homeless person?
Yet even for those "unwilling" in Jerusalem who would reject Christ, our Lord’s love and tenderness towards them is evident in the image of the mother hen. If this is how He feels for those who would stone and kill Him, how much love and forgiveness awaits us for our everyday mistakes?
Freedom is a beautiful gift, but only if we use it wisely.
Marlo Serritella is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.