Today’s gospel offers us a very interesting image of JESUS. As he describes his love for Jerusalem he says, “I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” The gospel is a sad one – filled with ominous undertones and the personal exasperation of the greatest prophet to enter the City of David. Yet, as he contemplates his destination, JESUS offers us yet another testimony of the depth of his love. This image comforts me.
I’m from Northern New Jersey so I know as much about hens as I do about the surface of the moon! But, I had a mother. This experience is all I need to make sense of his love for us. If we were to make a list of every moment of mother-love, it might speak of the time before we had words – when being held and fed and comforted changed something in us, made us feel safe and worthy of love. The list might mention the way a mother gives the best of everything to her child – takes the burnt piece of toast or uses the money in the cookie jar for a doll instead of the dress she was saving for.
This hen-GOD has big wings under which we are kept safe. Most of us have had the experience of "the arm" – mother’s arm holding us back when the brakes were suddenly applied. Unconscious, instinctual and determined – a mother’s love knows no end. We can be 40, 50, 60 and still be someone’s little girl or baby boy. Imagine GOD loving us this way…and more! Remember, JESUS uses the natural world and all we understand to get the message through that we are loved beyond our deepest imaginings. GOD is always more. The gospel also highlights our freedom. JESUS longed to love the Chosen in this way but they “were not willing.” GOD still needs our “yes”, needs our permission to love us to death. Often, it is fear that stands in our way – a wall we build around our hearts because we can’t really believe that we are loveable. The spiritual life is about getting over ourselves and letting this love into our lives. All the wounds, the disappointments can be healed. Earthly mothers are always limited in their loving. Some even fail to provide the basic love a child needs to thrive. If that is the case we must find new mothers – women who will love us "as is" and put a Band-Aid on our hearts. Do not abandon or desert me, my savior, my God. If my parents rejected me, still God would take me in. (Psalm 27:9b-100). And, thanks to the Lord, JESUS, we have this beautiful image to contemplate. In our prayer we can try to imagine the warmth and safety JESUS offers to all people. God will cover you like a nesting bird. God’s wings will shelter you. (Psalm 91:4).
Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki