Friday, March 01, 2013
Friday, March 1, 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.'
An ancient view of the universe plays at the back of mind. The good thrive; the evil come to ruin. We reap what sow.
It’s a neat formula except it doesn’t always fit the facts. Someone steals at work. He gets caught and gets fired. He had it coming. A man abuses his body with too much food and heavy drinking, and his organs fail from excess. What goes around comes around.
But there are so many other times when this neat formula doesn’t apply. The careful and virtuous suffer outrageous fates, die young, fall victim to sudden disease, abuse, accidents or financial downturns not of their own making. They didn’t deserve it.
For some, this undermines faith in God. The good should be rewarded. Those who are less good … not so much. The mean and nasty … let them get what they gave. Divine justice seems to require at least this much.
And when evil times and grief fall heavily on those who “don’t deserve it,” this means God isn’t just, doesn’t care … or isn’t there. The faith of more than a few has foundered on this point.
But life cannot be reduced to formulas. It must be lived in all its wild unpredictability. And God cannot be boxed in by our logic. Both life and God remain wonderfully, terribly and wildly free from us and our formulas about the way things should be.
Sounds like bad news, threatening news. But it’s the best news of all, though challenging.
You, Holy One, invite us to throw our formulas to the wind and see life as you see it.
Get over yourself and your need to force everything to make sense. Receive life as a great mystery and adventure you can neither predict nor much control.
Instead of judging who is deserving and who isn’t, instead of seeing through your shoulds and oughts, see the grace of each day, the need and humanity even of those you consider undeserving.
See without the need to make things fit the way things should be. See people in their imperfection and peculiarities without judging or blaming.
See the unpredictability of life, the surprises pleasant and painful. See it all as an arena where love plays and invites you to dance to its music so you might be as free as God and as gracious.
When for a moment you see this way, you will have begun to live.
Pr. David L. Miller