27 October. Thursday, Week 30

Saint Otteran, monk, optional memorial

1st Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

Putting on the armour of God, for the struggle of life

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.
Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness.
As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Pray also for me, so that when I speak, message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Gospel: Luke 13:31-35

Pharisees warn of Herod’s plans to seize Jesus; he laments over Jerusalem and its coming destruction

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jersalem.’

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Love will eventually win out

When Paul (or whoever wrote Ephesians in his name) presents the moral life as a battleground, where we need the whole armour of God, it evokes Jesus’ warning to “Enter the narrow door .” Is the Lord saying that in each of us there are impulses that hold us back from salvation? Right now we may overlook them or even try to silence them, cover them with excuses and arguments. Perhaps, “the narrow door” which leads us to a new, transformed existence is to help a neighbour or relative in their old age or sickness; dedicate some of our time to prayer reflection. The gospel recognizes Jesus’ struggle with the certainty of his impending death, the narrow door by which he would return to his true life in heaven. But he sees his ministry as that of a prophet who must speak his truth no matter what the cost. And he will die a prophet’s death in Jerusalem. Still, the Holy City does not evoke hatred and bitterness, only an expression of his sorrowing love and his indomitable hope: “How often have I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her young under her wings.” Eventually, love will win out.

Like a hen and her chickens

Jesus was clearly a keen observer of nature and of the animal world. He would have seen a hen in farmyards gathering her brood of chicks under her wings. That sight spoke to him of his own ministry. He too was in the business of gathering people. He wanted to form a new kind of community, consisting of people who would not normally gather together, Jew, Samaritan and Gentile, rich and poor, law abiding and sinner, male and female. In this morning’s gospel he laments the fact that the people of Jerusalem, for the most part, were not open to being gathered by him. He longed to gather them together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but they refused; they simply were not willing. Jesus had a great desire that others should love to the full, but if that desire was to come to pass, it needed to find some openness in others.

Even the Son of God could be powerless before the mystery of human freedom. He could call and invite and plead, but he could not coerce. Even when his desire for others was met with murderous resistance, even as he hung from the cross, he continued to call and invite and plead; he continued his work of gathering. When he rose from the dead, that work of calling and inviting and gathering continued and continues to this day. The Lord does not and cannot cease his work of gathering people around himself. He continues to await our response; he continues to lament when it is not forthcoming and to rejoice when it is. In the first reading, Saint Paul tells us that there are spiritual forces at work trying to prevent us from responding to the Lord’s work of gathering us to himself. To resist such forces, Paul says, human strength is not enough. We need God’s strength, God’s armour, which is why, in the words of that reading, we need to pray in the Spirit on every possible occasion.

[[Martin Hogan. See his new book: Know the Love of Christ — weekday homily reflections for 2017]]

St Otteran, monk.

Odran, Oran or Otteran (6th century), preceded Saint Columba to Iona, Scotland, where he lived as a monk until his death Saint Odran was chosen by the Vikings as patron of the city of Waterford in 1096 and later became patron of the Waterford diocese.

One Comment

  1. Pamela Lewis-Lee Sam says:

    If one has seen a hen with her chicks under her wings – an absolutely beautiful sight – one will be able to appreciate the message even more. I love the way you have linked the Gospel with the message of the first Reading. Thank you. Much appreciated.

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