A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent — by Rev. Amanda Currie
Theological Reflection – Sunday February 24, 2013
The Rev. Amanda Currie is the minister at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Saskatoon, SK and the clerk of the Presbytery of Northern Saskatchewan. In 2012 she worked on the “Churches Listening to Survivors Area” at the Saskatchewan National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She believes that there is a great deal of work yet to be done to foster healing and reconciliation in Canada, and that the Churches must come together in unity in order to accomplish it.
If you’re reading this reflection on the KAIROS website, you’re probably a person who cares about justice. You’re probably a person who believes that the time is now to care for the earth and preserve the natural environment, to put an end to child poverty, to reconcile relationships between First Nations and other Canadians, and to transform our society into one that is free from systemic and cultural racism, sexism, and discrimination. If you’re reading this reflection, you may be someone who is full of new energy and enthusiasm for justice work, or you may be tired and frustrated from the long struggle for justice with so much yet to be accomplished. Sometimes it may even feel like things are getting worse instead of better!
In the Gospel reading for Lent 2 (Luke 13:31-35) Jesus sounds frustrated to the point of giving up on Jerusalem. The Pharisees are hounding him again and warning him to stay away from the great city. Jesus laments the lack of response – indeed, the evil response – of the people of Jerusalem to his prophetic message; he cries, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!”
When Luke tells the story of Jesus, it is clear that Jesus’ mission is all about gathering God’s children together in the love and grace of God. Mary joyfully sings of God’s mercy in lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things. When the child is born, the good news is proclaimed first to lowly shepherds living in the fields. Even John the Baptist, preparing the way and preaching from Isaiah, proclaims: “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And then he calls all people to repent and to bear fruits worthy of repentance. He has instructions for the crowds, for the tax collectors, and for the soldiers, and he tells of the Coming One who will “gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
As Jesus’ ministry begins, he preaches in the synagogues of Judea and gathers disciples to learn from him and join in his work. He uses his healing power to help rejected people, and calls outsiders to be among his inner circle of followers. He teaches that we must love our enemies, and demonstrates that love by helping foreigners and forgiving sinners. At times, Jesus’ message is rejected, but his mission grows and grows as he gathers more and more followers and sends them out to do the same.
Still, there is opposition, and Jesus’ ministry is impeded again and again by those who seem to have the power and authority to put a stop to his progress. Just as Jesus prophesies that the day is coming when the first will be last and the last will be first, and the kingdom of God will be filled with outcasts and nobodies who come from eat and west to share in the great feast, the established authorities show up and attempt to put him off.
The Pharisees warn him: “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” But Jesus cannot be stopped with death threats. He says 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.’ As frustrated as Jesus may be by the negative response of Jerusalem and the established powers, and as disappointed and heartbroken as he may be that some are not willing to be gathered into the household of God, he will continue his work.
There are demons to be cast out, cures to be performed, and children to be gathered today and tomorrow, and on the third day Jesus will finish his work. Did you notice the language there – “on the third day”? Jesus goes about the work of healing, helping, and gathering God’s children – enduring the challenges and taking the risks – with the sure and certain hope that in the end God will accomplish the final victory.
As people who care about justice today, and as people who are sometimes frustrated by the lack of response, the barriers that we encounter, and the outright opposition from governments, leaders, and people in positions of power, let us seek during this Lenten Season to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Let us share in his longing to gather all of God’s children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But when we meet with challenges and obstacles, let us share in his determination to continue the work of seeking justice today and tomorrow, trusting that on the third day God will finish the work.