The readings for Sunday are available here.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to you! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood together under her wings, and you were not willing!
I love this image of a mother hen fluffing out her feathers to accommodate her chicks under her wings. True to form many of them would rather wander off in search of a bit of grain, while their patient mother waits to offer comfort and safety. It’s a scene familiar to those listening to Jesus that day, but they certainly would not be expecting this application to a much broader situation. Jesus tells them that, just as the hen longs to shelter her brood, so he yearns to bring people to his message of God’s loving reign.
This 23rd chapter of Matthew is full of what can only be described as a rant against the hypocrisy and lack of compassion shown by the religious leaders. Jesus does not mince words; in fact he comes across as harsh and unstinting in his condemnation. It is all the more unexpected that he moves from anger to gentleness, from disappointment to longing for reconciliation.
This is Jesus at his most human, showing all the gamut of emotions we have experienced in our own lives. Here is a man who is not afraid to speak his mind, to confront wrong-doing, in institutions and in people’s behaviour, and here is a man who is able to show compassion, to demonstrate forgiveness, to give up his life as the ultimate proof of love.
This is a man I want to serve!