How many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings"~Luke 13: 34b
When I was growing up as a kid, we had chickens at home. Have you ever seen a mother hen caring for her young? If she sees an eagle circling overhead, she instinctively gives a warning sound, and the baby chicks run to hide under her wings. When dark storm clouds fill the sky and thunder roars and lightning flashes, she quickly makes a sound that draws her brood to her. As night approaches and the shadows lengthen, she gives a quiet call that gathers her young to rest under her wings.
Jesus knew what He was talking about when He referred to the hen. He also knew He had not succeeded in gathering the children of Israel to Himself. They did not listen. When His love and care had not been accepted, He experienced the bitterest tragedy possible in human life— to give His heart only to have it refused and broken.
Notre-Dame Cathedral, a towering representation of the faith of the French Church, a symbol of Christian culture and civilization, caught fire in 2019. The fire threatened to engulf the cathedral and burn it to the ground. However, it has survived, although with massive damage to the roof and attic. I visited Paris in 2019, three months after the fire, and the cathedral was closed and still in a deplorable state to witness.
Some Anti-Christians and Anti-Catholics were in apparent jubilation. Untold numbers of faithful and loyal believers, some of whom stood vigil praying and singing, did not see plain and simple destruction. Because of their faith, they saw more than mere flames devouring the roof and attic. What they saw were symbols of their faith, as well as centuries of Christian culture burned to the ground.
The educated world, including non-Christians, mourned Notre-Dame's massive damage. For them, the cathedral stood not just for the Christian faith but for the pinnacle of European and Western culture. However, for Christians, the damage was a wake-up call to an attack on their faith by the much more dangerous flames of secularism and materialism.
Before shaking our heads at the stubbornness of Jerusalem's people in the Gospel today or giving up on today's materialistic and secularist world, which is busy building an edifice to godlessness and faithlessness, let us consider what Jesus would say if He spoke about us.
How many times have I sent you a wake-up call, but you have not listened? How many times have I urged you to change your life, but you did not change? How many times have I told you that you love God most when you love your neighbor in need but continue to focus on yourself?
Jesus' lament over Jerusalem could be a lament over us, His followers in the 21st century.
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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.
Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.