Scripture: Lectionary 482: Romans 8:31-39 Psalm 109:21.22.26-27.30-31.
Jesus is not afraid of crowds, nor despots like Herod Antipas, nor the
religious leaders who are constantly harassing him about his teachings and
actions. The last year of Jesus’ life brings all of these adversaries to
today’s warning from the Pharisees that Jesus should get on his way and get
out of the territory of Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. The
latter attempted to slaughter Jesus among the other babies two years and
under and now his son Antipas is threatening to kill Jesus. Jesus knows
well that his days are numbered and it will not be Antipas who will put him
to death but another adversary, the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate who is
just as much a despot as the Herods. Jesus calls Antipas a fox and Jesus
is careful not to fall into his traps of curiosity and vane interest in the
Lord. After all, if he has killed John the Baptist, he would not hesitate
to kill Jesus.
If we carefully read the excerpt from Romans, we will discover why Jesus is
not afraid of all of his enemies and adversaries. “If God is for us who can
be against us?” (Romans 8: 31) Jesus, however, does listen to the advice of
the Pharisees for he is determined to go up to Jerusalem and fulfill the
plan of God that he has carefully followed from his childhood. He is
teaching the same thing to the faithful followers in this long journey
narrative that Luke guides us through. We go spiritually up to Jerusalem
with Jesus. Jesus has raised the level of the conversation about his
impending death to the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. “For God so
love the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may
not die but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). The paradox of the Cross thus
is seen not only in Jesus’ life but in those who believe in him Jesus will
go on preaching, teaching, and casting out demons but he will go up to
Jerusalem for the last days of his life very soon.
Jesus laments over Jerusalem and those who will not only threaten him but
actually put him to death there through the cruel method of crucifixion
used by the Romans. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and
stone those who are sent to you. How often have I wanted to gather your
children as a mother bird collects her young under her wings, and you
Jesus has foretold his death many times to his disciples. We enter that
mystery each day through the readings and the Eucharist. His Passion,
Death, and Resurrection are the reason why we too should never be afraid.
“If God is with us, who can be against us?” Amen.