Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Tuesday February 26, 2013
It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others that this should have happened to them? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen on whom the tower at Siloam fell, killing them all? Do you suppose that they were more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.'
Tragedy strikes, evil happens to a person, and someone watching will assuredly come up with a reason why they deserved it. It’s called the just world hypothesis.
The human mind is hard-wired to seek explanations, and we want the world to be fair. We want to think people get what they deserve.
When something painful or tragic happens, the mind looks for reasons why they deserved it. They must have done something wrong. They must have brought this on themselves … somehow.
By blaming them we protect ourselves from the thought that such tragedy can happen to us.
Pointing fingers is an effective defense mechanism. Finding a reason, even connecting the fate of others with God’s will, keeps us from having to look at ourselves, at our faults and vulnerabilities as mortal human beings.
All this backfires when something evil or tragic happens to us or someone close to us. Unhelpful and uncomfortable questions quickly disturb when we are accustomed to thinking everything happens for a reason, that God’s will is somehow in what is happening.
“What have I done … what have we done to deserve this?”
Jesus has no time for any of this. He doesn’t appeal to some idea that God’s permissive will allows bad things to happen. He doesn’t point to some higher wisdom or hidden plan at work behind events that would explain everything … if we only knew what it was.
Nor does he say people suffer because they are worse sinners than everyone else.
He turns them … and us … back to ourselves and tells us to repent. Change your mind; change the way you see.
Don’t see people who deserve what is happening to them. See people who need the love and mercy of God. See people whom God treasures.
Look at yourselves, and see that you need God’s mercy and grace as anyone else.
Pr. David L. Miller