Chapter & verse: Luke 13:32-34
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 … How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
Whatever our way of “doing” church and politics, or negotiating relationships, it is difficult to escape the allure of genuflecting to the love of power, however admirable our commitment to the power of love. There is no doubt where Herod “the fox” sits in any power-play! Luke’s use of the words “fox” and “hen” in such close proximity got me thinking about his motivation. The many tales about foxes offer images of: Craftiness, slickness, speed, cunning, cruelty and of preying on the vulnerable and unsuspecting. And, while foxes often triumph in their ploys, there are also stories of how they can be outmanoeuvred.
Some religious leaders tell Jesus that Herod is out to get him. But religious leaders are not known for loving Jesus, as he often challenges their distortion of faith and faithfulness. So, is there a ploy here? After all, Herod the fox, known for his devious mind and lust for power, is dying to have an audience with this upstart Galilean rabbi. Seeing right through the agenda of Herod, Jesus sends back words: “Go tell that fox to stay away from my henhouse. My agenda will not be dictated by Caesar’s stooge, nor can he stop my subversive project of full life for all people.” Jesus knows the direction of travel – he is heading towards Jerusalem where they kill prophets because the foxes of this world insist on having their way. Like a mother hen, he is heading there to bare his breast and spread his wings for the sake of those trampled upon.
Current realities suggest that the ways of “the foxes” continue to haunt and prey on the henhouse of God’s economy of abundant life. They give the impression that their agenda is also about full life for all. In Jesus’ world, as in ours, there are cunning and manipulative types wielding power aimed at controlling minds, securing personal advantage, intimidating, and stealing by guile. Some of these occupy visible seats of power in all walks of life. Here and there, prophetic voices rise up to challenge the glamour of their evil, perhaps even silencing them for a brief moment. The message from the henhouse is clear: The fox is not destined to have his way. Yet, the fox seems to be triumphing!..
This is an extract from the March 2014 edition of Reform.