Thursday of week 30 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 13:31-35

Today Jesus is warned by some Pharisees to leave the area where he is teaching. The reason they give is that Herod is after him. This is Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great, whom we have already met. The region of Perea was part of his territory as tetrarch. The warning could, of course, have been just a ploy on the part of the Pharisees to get rid of Jesus by frightening him in this way.

At the same time, there could have been something in the threat because Herod had already executed John the Baptist, although there is no evidence that Jesus spoke against Herod in the same way that offended Herod’s second wife.

In any case, Jesus is not moved. He knows that his life is part of a larger plan. He will do his work, including the healing of people and their liberation from evil forces. When the time is ripe, and not before, he will face his passion and death. He will attain his ‘end’, where ‘end’ has the double meaning of the end of his life on earth and his being brought to perfection through his suffering and death – an idea explicitly put in the letter to the Hebrews.

In any case, it has been decided that he will face his death in Jerusalem and nowhere else. Herod is not going to change any of that.

Then, Jesus goes on to pray for the city that will be the scene of his death. It is a city that has many times in the past mistreated and killed those sent by God to bring his message. Jesus speaks tenderly of his being like a mother bird who protectively gathers her chickens under her wings. But they reject him, as they rejected so many prophets before.

He foretells something that must have seemed to his hearers both blasphemous and impossible: “Your temple will be abandoned.” Yet, just 40 years after Jesus’ death, the temple will meet its destruction, never again to be rebuilt.

Finally, he tells them that they will not see him again until they themselves greet him by saying, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This could refer to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week or to his final coming as Judge and Lord of all.

Our lives too are in God’s hands and nothing will happen to us which is in conflict with God’s wishes and God’s plans. Ultimately, everything is for our well-being. But, let us be on the alert to recognise the Lord coming into our lives often in very unexpected ways and through very unexpected people.

Some of those we reject may be bringing – even unknown to themselves – a message from God that we need to hear and follow.

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