Today’s gospel is a reading from Luke 13:31-35:
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He 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. Yet 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.’
Jesus wasn’t afraid of Herod – I don’t believe Jesus feared anyone; the closest thing may have been the feeling of separation from his heavenly Father as he hung on the cross and was hit by the realization of all of the sins being laid upon him. But Jesus knew what his purpose was going to be in these last three days, and he knew he had things to do before the third day. He knew he was surrounded by pain and suffering, and his mission was to heal, to share his beautiful mission with those in his path. Jesus cannot be swayed from his role as he enters into the last stages of his journey here on earth.
“Jerusalem, 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! See, your house is left to you.”
Jesus loved Jerusalem, and he wanted to protect those who lived there. The Jerusalem of today is not far different from then – there is still a need for his loving protection in that place where so much of our faith history was experienced firsthand.
Jesus so easily could have run away, fled from the hands that would take his life. But he knew there was a plan. He knew these would be the last days on earth for him, and nothing and no one could force or reason with him to escape from the inevitable. That is faith, trust, and love.
I think of Saint Pope John Paul II as we celebrated his feast day this past October 22. How he suffered in the throngs of World War II, how he worked so hard to open the paths of communication through socialism, through the Nazi persecution, even as he became a Priest and continued to fight for the less fortunate. He was a voice for the people, and he, like the hen, and like Jesus himself, did his best to gather his children as the hen gathered her brood under her wings.
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.’
Patty Masson supports the Passionists from Spring, Texas.