In the Christian liturgy for the thirty-first of October, some of the Pharisees approach Jesus to tell him to leave Jerusalem …”Leave, Herod wants to kill you.”
“Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose. Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem.’
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling! Behold, your house will be abandoned. [But] I tell you, you will not see me until [the time comes when] you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
I’ve read this passage before and probably have heard it multiple times.
But many hours after reading this passage, I am still thinking about this exchange between the Lord and the Pharisees.
“Go and tell that fox…” sounds almost affectionate, almost humorous, hardly the reply of one informed that the most powerful man in the region wants him dead.
But that is of course the point, this is all about Power.
Jesus is dismissive of Herod’s threat..he will continue with healings and exorcisms today, tomorrow and the next day; Herod’s power is nothing compared to the power of God the Father. “It is impossible for a prophet to die outside of Jerusalem.”
Jesus’ next words feel as if they are from the mouth of the Father; filled with sorrow and heartbreak at the destiny of Jerusalem, at the choices of his beloved people whom he longs to gather under his wings but who are unwilling.
It feels as if He is talking to us…today.
There are countless Herod’s intent on killing Jesus in our 21st century. Powerful men and women all over the world secure in their belief that God is either too busy to notice their scorn for the commandments or that God does not exist. Perhaps never did. I am working to cultivate a silent mind for all those who do not yet know the Christ.
In working through the last fixes to Saul before sending the manuscript on to the editors, I am reminded frequently of the open hostility I once held toward this man, Saul. And cannot help but feel a special affinity for those who are as lost as I once was…which leads me to a homily I heard for Friday’s All Souls Day mass.
Great phrase, constipated grace, is it not? If the meaning is not immediately apparent, think about it for just a minute or three.
Friday, November 1st was All Saints Day. A huge feast day for Catholics because we are celebrating all those who see the real picture- the reality of the Triune God. Father Alphonse, the celebrant at St. Paul the Apostle Church, began his homily by looking out at the expressions on his parishioners and extolling us to “SMILE! You know where you are headed, to our Father in Heaven! And what about all those others who think we are nuts packed in here on a Friday morning? It’s not their fault! They are inculpably ignorant.”
Another term I did not know, but dearly love…inculpable ignorance…From our Savior’s lips as He died on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Explains so much that is happening in our world today, does it not? If they knew Jesus, then…
I am reminded of what I know but keep forgetting. Each one of us 7 billion souls is made in the image of God. Each of us is drenched with His Grace. But we must not permit it to be constipated. Like Herod.
Leave, Herod wants to kill you- ‘constipated grace’. Yet another delightfully picturesque phrase from Father Alphonse.
The image below from Mount Cassino Abbey in Italy is called The Glory of St. Benedict and is a splendid way to end this post. We know where we are headed.