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A devotion for the second Sunday in Lent

 

Today and tomorrow, and the next day

By the Rev. Dr. Victor E. Makari | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Victor and Sara Makari

Luke 13: 31-35

The Lament over Jerusalem

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

LOUISVILLE — Sara and I live on the edge of Jerusalem. Often, our paths take us near the Mount of Olives. Tourists and pilgrims come from all corners of the globe and pose for photos on a terrace there, with the breathtaking sight of the “Holy City” in the background.

Not once do we find ourselves at that or another site providing this fantastic panoramic view without remembering Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem: his desire for inclusiveness countered by her rejection of it. Echoes of this rejection continue to be heard in today’s political action.

The broader context of the Gospel passage, Luke 13:18 – 21, pictures the “kingdom of God” as a mustard seed growing into a tree in whose branches the birds of the air find a home, and as a small leaven impacting a large measure of flour (Inclusiveness). In the next frame, as Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he was asked: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” (the “numbers game”), to which he replied with the images of the narrow door and the wide door, the few and the many: the few who embrace the kingdom of God, and the many who go their own way. Then he affirms the inclusive nature of that realm — its citizens will come from east and west, from north and south, and sit at table in the “kingdom of God…” (Luke 13:22 – 30).

“At that very hour, some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, ‘Get out from here…’” (Luke 32).

Earlier in the chapter, we read about Jesus teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath and healing the woman who was bent over for 18 years and could not fully straighten herself, whereupon the ruler of the synagogue became indignant with him, and obviously with his teaching which must have sounded heretical, and probably wanted to kick him out.

Through each encounter, Jesus was very clear about his own mission — that is, to model and proclaim the kingdom of God, describe its inclusive nature and delineate its principles of justice, human dignity and peaceable living. His consistent reply was to persist in what he was doing: “I will go on doing what I have been doing — TODAY AND TOMORROW AND THE DAY FOLLOWING” (Luke 32-33).

As it was with Jesus, the breathtaking view of what is now ever-expanding Jerusalem evokes in our hearts deep sadness and lament when we know that so much of that expansion is wrought unjustly, at the expense of another, indigenous population and their exclusion.

At the same time, we know that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Israelis (the few, compared to the many citizens of the State of Israel) recognize — and often speak out — against such injustice. In the face of all this, we perceive the vocation and witness of the Christian community in this troubled land (about 1.2% of its inhabitants), and our own, to be like that of Jesus: to persist in proclaiming the kingdom of God in presence, in word and in action. And so, we persist — TODAY, TOMORROW AND THE NEXT DAY.

The Rev. Dr. Victor Makari is regional liaison for Israel, Palestine and Jordan. To learn more about Victor and Sara’s ministry, visit presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/victor-and-sara-makari


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