Commentary on the Lectionary: Luke 13:31-37
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Commentary on the Lectionary: Luke 13:31-37
(February 28, 2010)

This passage includes Jesus declaring, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…” I have heard preachers remark that the hen is feminine image of God, stressing the care and concern that people often associate with mothers. What I rarely hear is people noting is what this metaphor says about Jesus’ thinking about animals.
If Jesus thought that hens were mindless or acted on “instinct,” this metaphor would be meaningless. Jesus must have recognized that hens genuinely care about their young, because this is how he felt about those who had fallen away from godly ways. Though certainly not the main point of the passage, Jesus’ using this metaphor demonstrates that Jesus understood that animals have feelings and that they act in ethical ways.

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