by Pastor Ralph J. Mineo
Jesus, as recorded in chapter 13 of Luke, once said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Later, in Luke’s account, in chapter 19, after what we call the “Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem,” we’re told that Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
If you have ever loved someone you couldn’t protect, then you can begin to understand what Jesus meant. All you can do is open your arms, an extremely vulnerable posture, and care deeply. You can’t make anyone walk into those arms. But you can desire it, and you’ll weep when you’re rejected. Nothing hurts so much as to give your love to another, only to see that love despised and rejected. The result is tears, frustration, and inner pain.
This mother hen image reminds me of my mother, Gladys, who died in 1973. Her spirit still teaches me the importance of gathering and protecting. One time, when I was in college, after I’d been away from home for almost seven years, I had a terrible case of strep throat. I was homesick for the FIRST TIME (yes, after seven years!)
As soon as I could talk (after about three days), I got to a phone, and I called my “Mommy.” She heard my tears and she cried with me, and in a short time, she drove two hours to visit me and bring me soup. My mother never attended a worship service while visiting the seminary but that she didn’t cry. The tears of my mother in these times and many other times changed my life and my relationship to her, for the better, for the deeper.
Jesus compares himself to a hen. A hen is as far from a fox as you can get. The fox oppresses chicks in the farmyard. The mother hen will die protecting the chicks. Jesus is like a mother hen. The hen has no fangs, no claws, no ripping muscles. All she has is a willingness to gather and protect her babies with her own body. If the fox wants the chicks, he will have to kill her first. Thus, Jesus would die for the sake of gathering and protecting the children of God.
As we begin the season of Lent, I pray that the tears of Jesus, indeed the very sacrifice of Jesus, will change your life and your relationship with Jesus, for the better, for the deeper! He’s reaching out his arms to you. I pray we will all accept his invitation, in fact daily. Let us be willing to call out to Jesus in our every need! Amen.