In our Gospel reading today, Jesus utters a profoundly anguished lament over his beloved people, and the hardness of their hearts. Yet in his grief he also speaks of his deep and abiding faithfulness towards them and his desire to envelop them in the embrace of his unconditional love. His message then was the same it is to us today: stop running from God’s love, turn back and be saved. I think the Gospel today invites us to see the ways in which we are still opposing, running from, and rejecting the love of Jesus Christ.
Many of Jesus’ own people opposed His invitation to live in the fullness of God’s love, just as we do today. All of us have resistance to what Jesus invites. Speaking of Jerusalem, He exclaims “how often have I wanted together your children as a hen gathers her brood under her wings—and you would not!” This rather striking image of Jesus as a hen, protecting her brood from the fox, sacrificing herself, if need be, speaks to something deeply instinctive within us: the desire to be sheltered in a loving embrace, and to know that we are truly safe and deeply loved. If the image of a hen doesn’t quite resonate with you, think of a mother nursing her newborn baby, protecting her in the warmth of her embrace. That desire to be with her child, that indescribable love, that unconditional love, which extends from the core of the mother’s being. Loving her child more than life itself is as natural for her as breathing or drinking. She delights in her child, and would do absolutely anything to protect her, giving her own life in a heartbeat. That is a hint of how great God’s love for us is; yet, sadly the response by humanity has often been to reject God’s call to love one another as He has loved us.
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 | Philippians 3:17-4:1 | Luke 13:31-35
O Lord God, how am I to know?
Does Abram’s prayer sound familiar to you? Do you ever find yourself saying or thinking these words? Do you sometimes feel embarrassed or ashamed even to ask them?
O Lord God, how am I to know?
For myself, I find these words of Abram often rise in me—only to be squelched by a terrible, pious embarrassment: asking God ‘how will I know’ seems rather unfaithful, even presumptuous, doesn’t it?I suspect, however, that this morning’s scene between Abram and God continues, preserved by scriptural tradition, because it cuts against the grain of a worldly approach to the Holy.
There is something of Abram in each of us—the raw pagan, the worldling, the creature drawn always back to its own immediate sense of satisfaction; the human being that both senses and refuses God’s presence and grace simply because they so often defy our assumptions and expectations. It is easy enough for us to forget that Abram was no devout keeper of Torah, nor a formally trained Christian catechumen. Abram and Sarai walk this path for the first time, and we allfollow the grooves left by their feet. Not all trackless wastes are in trackless wilderness.
It is appropriate, then, that we sit here with Abram as we settle into the wilderness journey of Lent. God has called us out, to go into a land we do not know, to seek promises we do not fully comprehend. Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you […]so that you will be ablessing.Just as God called Abram to begin the project of blessing, healing, and reconciliation to God through one humble body, so too this call continues in each of us: go, that I might make you a blessing.