Rom 8:31b-39; Ps 109:21-22,26,27,30,31; Lk 13:31-35
If God deals kindly with us, we delight in His mercy. Yet, how could we say “if” after the Paschal Mystery of Christ? Now, we can only say “because” God deals kindly with us… His generosity is great beyond measure. Indeed, we are wretched and poor in the eyes of this world and in the depths of our hearts we are wounded with a desperate longing. Those with whom we share this time and place have eyes that only see our mourning and poverty. We mourn in our blessedness because we are grieved in soul that sin survives and vice is strong in our day. We are poor in our blessedness because we seek the will of God and give away everything for his glory and the good of those around us. The Lord Jesus has touched our hearts and we long to be consumed by his passion. We languish with love for the One-Who-First-Loved-Us. His most tender mercies have pierced through our hard hearts and loosened our stiff necks. The LORD has saved us in his mercy, by his own hand He has done this. We cannot speak our thanks adequately. Even if we cry out amid the throng the praise of our hearts, we cannot give thanks enough. Indeed, the LORD has stood at our right hand to save us from those who would condemn our souls. This is the mystery that Saint Paul ponders in this Letter to the Romans and in all his epistles. In today’s gospel the Lord Jesus is the “poor man” who relies upon God alone while the crowds and the leaders seek to condemn him.
It is impossible for us to grasp the mystery of God’s love. Indeed, the LORD must grasp us for we cannot get our minds around the mystery of his love. Saint Paul plunges us into the mystery of the Holy Trinity when he uses the rhetoric of the Father and Son relationship. Indeed, his question can have only one answer. “He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” What else could we want or desire more than this love? From all eternity the Son has obeyed the Father without hesitation and out of the most pure love. From the eternity of this filial love comes the defeat of all that endangers us. The Father’s love for His Son unfolds in the day-to-day heights and depths of our life through Him, with Him and in Him. In Christ we encounter all our anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and the sword. In Christ all these dangers only deepen and heighten our filial relationship with the Father. Indeed, our suffering so strengthens our union with Christ that we hardly notice the pain of such a relationship. The cross is not only our friend; it is our only friend. Indeed, it is this conviction that makes us one with Saint Paul and all who are inseparable from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What a curious beginning for today’s gospel passage. Many questions arise: Why would the Pharisees want to warn the Lord Jesus? Why would King Herod want to kill him? Aren’t the Pharisees as threaten by the Lord as Herod is? Are the Pharisees now the friends of Jesus? Hasn’t Herod wanted to kill the Lord Jesus for quite some time, or is that another Herod? Why is casting out demons such a threat? What about healing causes fear in the hearts of those who oppose the Lord Jesus? What is his purpose that will be accomplished “on the third day?” The Lord Jesus knows his culture and his history. These people love to hate their prophets, and many prophets have been killed. Indeed, the Lord Jesus also knows himself and he knows the Father. Indeed, for this he has come into the world—to gather together all the little ones who are willing to draw near, even though it may be dangerous. Moved by the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus speaks a word of prophecy. All of Jerusalem will be abandoned, and no one will see him until they are ready to shout and sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” The crowds throughout the city of Jerusalem had these words on their lips during the Triumphal Entrance. Less than a week later, they cried out “Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar!” The foxes have dens, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. Herod and the Pharisees don’t want this Prophet to make things miserable for them. Anyone who is not with him is against him. Anyone who is against him is against the Father. All opposition to the will of the Father is futile and frustrating. Our only blessedness is to welcome the Lord Jesus into our hearts and into our daily lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Here we are summoned to receive the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. This may be dangerous. It will identify us with the one so many people want to kill. Is this what it means to be blessed in the Name of the Lord?