Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Lent - Second Sunday
Sep 30, 2023
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “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.’ 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. 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.’”
It is easy to fixate on foxes... to identify the forces clearly at odds with the work of God in the world, and to start shaking our fists at them. It is a far more difficult thing when we find ourselves, as those who are allegedly devoted to God's will and God's ways, suddenly under the spotlight and exposed as sinners as well. The ironic force Luke gives to the Pharisees' warning (that 'that fox' King Herod wants to kill him) should give us all pause: when the time comes for Christ to finish his work, Herod is far less invested in the killing of Jesus than they are. Confronted with Christ, the 'devoted' called out "Crucify!" the loudest.
Facing the convicting season of Lent, when both our mortality and our immorality are often brought painfully to remembrance, the temptation to fixate on ourselves, to try and fix ourselves up and strive to overcome our weaknesses and failures, can also easily overtake us. It is easy to seek salvation in the guise of self-improvement, especially if we coat it with a thick veneer of religious devotion. But that is not the hope our Lord holds out for us in this passage. Jesus does not cry out for Jerusalem to rise up and to conquer, hunting down the foxes around them or even the foxes within, but rather to be gathered together to the only one who can deliver them, to the only one who can bring God's saving work to completion.
As we travel through Lent together, may we be gathered together in Christ and not simply thrown back onto ourselves. May we both hear and heed his call to forsake ourselves and follow him, humbly receiving his aid rather than fending for ourselves. As we seek to be a part of God's work in the world, let us not presume to face the foxes alone, but only in the strength of our Crucified King.
Most merciful God, who has called to us, undeserving as we are, to be gathered by Christ into your holy presence for our protection and preservation, deliver us from all of our foes and even from ourselves, that we may be found in you complete through the work of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever more, Amen.
By Rob Montgomery
Rob Montgomery is a third year student in the M.Div Pioneer program, from O'Connor Free Methodist Church near Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada.