A Clever Word for the Season of Lent
ἀλώπηξ (alōpēx) fox
A Clever Verse for Context
He said to them, "Go and tell that fox (alōpēx) for me, "Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. (Luke 13:32)
There are foxes (alōpēx) in the world: connivers, manipulators, cunning individuals bent on their agenda above all others. Foxes are clever, we could even call them deinos. They answer questions with more questions, leaving us off balanced and vulnerable. In Herod, Jesus faces down a fox who is not only clever, but also powerful, possessing far more resources than a charismatic carpenter preacher from Nazareth. But Jesus will not let himself be foxed by such a fox as Herod. He will not play the game of manipulation and trickery. He does not change his story or question his motives. He responds to Herod’s foxiness with authenticity. Perhaps that is the only way to deal with the foxes in the world: authenticity, by being unabashedly the people who we are, who God created us to be.
The cunning fox (alōpēx) is a recurring figure in Aesop’s fables. In one famous fable (#15 in Perry’s edition of Aesop), a fox (alōpēx) tries to get a tantalizing bunch of grapes. When he fails, he concludes that they’re “probably sour anyway.” The moral attached to this fable is that “it’s easy to despise what you can’t have.”
Clever Question for Further Reflection
Have you ever encountered foxes in your life? What did that encounter feel like? How did it change you?
What do you like best about yourself? When do you feel most yourself?
A Clever Prayer to Close
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.