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Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “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.”
Opening Prayer: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock! Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.” Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will. I believe, help my unbelief!
- Behold: This exchange between Jesus and some Pharisees highlights why it was necessary for the Son of God to leave his throne at the right side of the Father and come himself to save us. The Pharisees were Jewish scholars, and like the Sadducees, were experts in the law (Scripture) and in how to interpret it. They were the ones anointed to teach and guide God’s people. We see in this conversation that these so-called experts of Scripture did not recognize Jesus as the Word. If they had, they would have known that no human power, even the kingly power of Herod, was a match for the power of Jesus. Our Lord took this opportunity to remind them that God has authority over evil: “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.’” The power of Jesus is the same power that is given to every baptized person by the Holy Spirit. We have access to God’s power over evil because he dwells in us.
- Yearn: The architect Antonio Barluzzi built churches in the Holy Land that speak in stone and mortar the Gospel story of a particular holy site. The church built where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) is in the shape of a large teardrop. It is called Dominus Flevit (The Master Wept). The mosaic on the altar that has been placed in front of a large window overlooking the ancient Jewish Temple Mount (now a mosque) is the image of a hen gathering her brood under her wings. Barluzzi’s “stones cry out” (Luke 19:40) to the profound reality that God yearns for our love. This yearning is more intense than what a mother or father feels when a child goes astray, because God’s love for us is perfect. God loved us so much that he sent his Son to redeem us. This is what Jesus spoke of when he said, “and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.”
- Unwilling: “Jerusalem…how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling!” These Pharisees are just a few of a much larger group of people who, throughout the ages, have chosen not to believe in Jesus. All of them were “unwilling” to be gathered into the arms of Mother Church. To the Pharisees, Jesus prophesied, “Behold, your house will be abandoned.” Indeed that came to be when, in 70 AD, the Romans quelled a Jewish revolt, burning the Temple down and leaving all of Jerusalem and much of ancient Palestine in ruins. In our day, many people ignore the Ten Commandments and suffer physical, psychological, and spiritual consequences here on earth, as well as the pains of Purgatory or Hell after death. And there are also people who reject Jesus yet seem to thrive by worldly standards, like weeds with the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), but they miss out on the profound peace that comes from having faith. We who are “willing” to be gathered under the protective wings of Mother Church are in the safest place—the center of God’s will.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I find it difficult to understand how these Pharisees didn’t recognize you as the Messiah they had long waited for. Yet, so often I, too, struggle to believe you are who you say you are. So often, I fall back on my own strength. Forgive me Lord. I want to believe. Jesus, I trust in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for a way to proclaim you in word and deed.
For Further Reflection: Reflect on the song, I, the Lord of Sea and Sky.
Nan Balfour is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She volunteers as a writer and speaker for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life.