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LK 13: 31-35
3rd Sunday in Lent

Though the epithet 'fox' brands him, like the rest of the Herod family, 'devious' (neither fair nor kind to foxes!) as used then it also meant 'of no consequence', i.e. Herod's no real king. (cf. EZEK 13:4) As Christians, are we 'foxes' in either sense? If we are, maybe fox hunts oughtn't to be scrapped after all!

Why the Pharisees take it upon themselves to warn Jesus isn't clear. They're sworn enemies. Probably it's just that they hate all the Herods even more than they hate Him. Maybe the Pharisees here, & Jesus' response to them, is a timely reminder of how complicated life with its alliances, ad hoc or longer term, can get. In the alliances we make & break - in family, community, church, etc. - do we act as foxes in either or any sense? Who thinks of us as 'that fox'? To whom do we return the compliment?
How often do we / our congregation / our denomination act in some way that shows us up to be either tricky or inauthentic? We're not, of course, called to be Jesus' enemies, but neither are we called to be his (temporary) allies when it suits us. Our call is to be constantly, commitedly, & doggedly Jesus' friends!

In reality it's neither the Pharisees nor Herod (Antipas) nor anyone else back then we're called to focus on. Always on the living raised Jesus Christ among us by His Spirit, & ourselves as his Friends. As His Body, we're not to let ourselves be moved on, threatened, or hurried by Herod or anyone else while there's still work to be done. What about our own 'today, tomorrow, & the third day'? What's to be done during each day of grace granted us? (I reckon that when Jesus is talking about 'today, tomorrow, & the third day' he's connecting back with the parable he's told a few verses back about the fig tree that's spared the axe & receives a year of grace. We're not actually told the tree's owner agrees to the period of grace, but the point of the parable depends upon that happening!) Whether it's a day, or three, or a year during which some axe isn't going to fall because of our failure to bear fruit, there's no time to waste! Not that God ever threatens us. The axe is an encouragement, not a threat to human fig trees! Whatever todays' Herods (or Pharisees, or anyone else) try to do to us, our calling is to use the time left to us, respond to the extra nurturing we're going to get or which we're called to give during days & years of grace. The parable assumes we'll take God the Gardener's advice & not be put off by those who intimidate us in any sense - even with axes!

There are still those who can't get either their head or their heart around the feminine imagery of the hen Jesus uses here. For some odd reason, God, who by definition can't be humanly male, female, or anything else, is still by some people packed full, laden down with a baggage car of male characteristics, largely of the worst sort! Is this a real God? Or only some god made in our own distorted image?! We can only get through that kind of thing, past it, by grace. Our heads can never get us there; only our head & our heart together can get us past axes to nurture!