17 March 2019
The Fox and Hen
This title is not an Aesop fable or a board game (though there is a pub so named!). I chose the title for this piece because it refers to an incident in Jesus’ ministry, a warning of the perils awaiting those who ignore his message (Luke 13:31-35). The second half of Luke’s gospel follows Jesus’ journey from Galilee until he entered Jerusalem for the final time. As Jesus nears his destination, he is confronted by some Pharisees who try to persuade him to turn back. They claimed that this was for Jesus’ safety but, in fact, they feared for their own privileged position if he went and annoyed Herod and his Romans accomplices. Jesus replies firmly that he will not be deflected from his mission and his destiny, by them or that “fox” Herod. In one of the few recorded occasions when Jesus shows his frustration at people’s refusal to turn to him, he laments over Jerusalem, likening himself to a hen wanting to gather her chicks (the people of the city) under her wings for safety (from the “fox”). We are used to Jesus using everyday illustrations from farming or shepherding in his teachings and keepers of birds or livestock, in Biblical times or today, know only too well the devastation wrought by a fox. The implication is clear. So, this Lent, let us remind ourselves of the protection we have through Jesus’ love, not hiding from the world but reaching out to draw others to him.