Date: Sunday, March 24, 2019
“When Bad Things Happen to Good People” is the title of a book by Harold Kushner, a rabbi, parent and human being, who asks the question: “why?” after the death of his son. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, people bring a similar question to Jesus regarding the death of Galileans at the command of the governor Pontius Pilate. Jesus knows that people are thinking in some way the victims are responsible and are being punished by God. They deserve it. This is not just an ancient point of view. Similar thoughts cross our minds. Jesus is emphatic: “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way, they are greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means!” Jesus refuses to simply blame the victim or God for suffering. But Jesus goes on to say the death of the Galileans and the death of people in Jerusalem when a tower collapses on them must be an occasion for the living to repent and to change. Jesus goes on to tell a parable of a barren fig tree, the owner who wants it cut down and the gardener who pleads for one year to till the earth and fertilize the tree to bear fruit. Jesus is speaking of God’s forbearance with us but also the urgency for us to repent and change unless we too perish.
Bad things happen to good people and to bad people. Just as good things happen to good people and to bad people. We are all sinners! There is some goodness in the worst of us and badness in the best of us. Lent is a season of God’s mercy and forbearance. Lent is season for contrition and change. We cannot just presume God’s mercy and patience. Now is the precious time for repentance and conversion. The Kingdom of God is at hand.