• Going Deeper: Growing in Faith and Knowledge

Fox in Your Henhouse

The Rev. Dr. William Rich
March 14, 2019

Who is the fox in your henhouse? What threatens the health of your body and soul? Who is your defender?


In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus names Herod as the threatening fox in the henhouse of God’s holy city, Jerusalem. And he imagines himself as the would-be defender of God’s little chicks, a fierce hen who would do anything to gather and protect her beloved little ones.


Two things startle me when I reflect and pray over this passage. First, Jesus chooses a less-than-heroic image for himself as our defender. There were other more immediately appealing and strong maternal images from his Bible he could have chosen. But he does not imagine himself as the enraged she-bear God of Hosea 13:8. Nor as the soaring mother eagle God of Deuteronomy 32:11-12.

Instead, Jesus pictures himself as a risk-taking mother hen, who, no matter what the cost, will do everything possible to hide her vulnerable little ones under her wings.  Like a mother hen extending her wings to shelter her chicks, Jesus will spread open his arms, exposing his heart, offering us the shelter of his whole self. “This is my body given for you. This is my blood poured out for you.”


But there is a second thing that stops me in my tracks about this story. Herod isn’t the only threat. Another threat lurks closer to the beloved chicks than Herod’s callous fox-like power. That threat is right inside the chicks themselves. They are unwilling. Something in them won’t or can’t receive the shelter and protection that their loving mother offers. 


And so I have to ask myself: what is it in me that can’t or won’t allow myself to skitter under Jesus’ sheltering arms? Is it pride? “I’m strong enough to do this on my own, thank you very much!” Or is it fear? “I don’t think I’ll find the kind of fail-safe protection I need by seeking to shelter in the heart of a man whose life is just as vulnerably human as mine.”


What foxes–the ones without and the ones within–are threatening your body and soul this Lent? And what is holding you back from trusting the shelter that Jesus offers? 


This Sunday when I come into church I know one truth will startle me yet again, like the eye-catching light that shines from the huge and beautiful cross over Trinity’s altar. The truth is this: no matter what holds us back, Jesus’ arms are always stretched out for me, for you, and for all the vulnerable chicks of Trinity, of Boston, and of the henhouse that is God’s whole Creation. Even if we draw back from that shelter for a time, Jesus does not draw back his arms, his shelter, his love. 


Hoping to see you this Sunday so we can shelter together under Christ’s loving arms.





The Rev. William W. Rich

Interim Rector




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