31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
This morning as my wife and I were getting ready for her to leave for work we heard the eerie howling of a coyote. It was dark, so we turned off the light in the kitchen and looked out the large window to see a whole pack of coyotes loping down our street. I am glad I was not a small mammal crossing the road at that point. I think it would have been dinner time.
In this reading Jesus calls Herod a fox and then transitions immediately into chickens. It is a rather natural progression. They often are mentioned together. We even have saying “like having the fox guarding the henhouse.” There is something primordial about a carnivore. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up when the coyotes sang outside my door. On other occasions when the coyotes howl I have seen my cat grow to twice her usual size.
Did you notice that Jesus likens himself to the hen who gathers chicks under her wings? He goes to Jerusalem. He grieves for the Holy City of God’s temple, where David once ruled and where God caused His Name to dwell. They are the fox who consumes the prophets and stones the ones whom God has sent to warn them. Now the Lord Himself comes, but not in judgment and wrath. He submits to their brutality and will die at their hands, just as much as the prophets died at their hands before him. But this time it will be different. Their house is forsaken, but because of this death, the day comes when we all say and sing, “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.” Sing those words this Sunday when you come to church. They are part of the Sanctus.