Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. (Luke 13:4)
This is the question which Jesus considers in today’s Gospel.
What about the people who were massacred while they worshipped? Why did that happen? And the people who died when the tower fell on them? Why did they have to die? And the people of Haiti, or the people of Chile? And the victims of the car accident or those afflicted by cancer: why? why?
Jesus’ answer may at first appear a little puzzling. But look again - it is filled with hope.
Firstly, he rebukes those who think these terrible events occurred because these were bad or wicked people. We might hardly think that, and the people of Jesus time clearly struggled with the idea, but still we might ask what have I/they done to deserve this? Why me?
Nothing. Of course nothing. They have done nothing wrong. No, Jesus says. This is not punishment. God does not strike them down through the wickedness of men or the whim of natural disaster. They are no worse than any of you, and possibly even better.
And there is another thing. And this is source of our joy. We must repent. We must turn again to God. And if we do there is hope, and more. Disaster and affliction and persecution make us think again. Consider your lives, live according to God’s will. Because then there is a very real hope.
While the rich and comfortable of the world might look upon such disaster and say to us “How can you believe in God?”, the people of Haiti and Chile have no such luxury. They are fervently and prayer and packing into their cracked and wounded Churches to worship this wonderful God.
The Gospel is about mercy and hope for those who love God from their hearts, and turn to him in truth.