Daily reading: 22 March

'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord'.

Something to read

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 desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say: 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'

Matthew 23:37-39

Something to think about

Jerusalem: a city where for centuries people trusted in God's presence in the Temple; a city where they believed the Messiah would appear. For Jesus and his followers it was a very special place.

This is why Jesus will weep over the beloved city, knowing that its people will kill their Messiah and that the city itself is doomed.

The love which is expressed for the city is remarkable, reflected in the natural impulse of a mother hen to gather up her brood, without any thought as to what they are like or how they are behaving.

It's a love that is prefigured in Hosea's image of God as a loving parent 'who taught Ephraim to walk … like those who lift infants to their cheeks' (Hosea 11:3,4).

That is the love that lies at the heart of the Christian gospel. Yet the response of the city dwellers to such love is to throw stones and kill.

Something to do

Find a picture of a place that is special to you and imagine scooping up its people as Jesus describes. Use it in the days leading up to Holy Week as a reminder of Jesus' great love for Jerusalem, and its outcome.

Something to pray

Pray for Jerusalem today, and for an end to the political and religious tensions that afflict it. Pray too for the people of the occupied Palestinian territory and for a just and lasting resolution to the conflict with Israel.

Today's contributor is the Rev Dr Paula Clifford, a former Head of Theology with Christian Aid, now Vicar of Minster Lovell in Oxon.