by DAVID HOLT
I’ve heard it said that we as American’s live in the safest, yet most insured society ever to exist. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we are very safe historically speaking. When I think about my own mortality, I think of traffic accidents or long-term illness like cancer. These are tragic events that I hear about on the news. Statistically speaking those issues are not likely to end my life at a young age. However, I’ve got insurance for everything. Cars, houses, even life. There’s a price to pay to reduce financial risk or fear, but ironically, there is no amount of money that we can pay to guarantee physical safety.
When the news of tragedy strikes to others, how do I respond to the question that Jesus asks in the first verses of this passage? Do I assume that it is because of someone else’s sin that they were victims of tragedy? Or is it because of my tithing, bible reading, or overall false sense of self-righteousness that I’ve earned my way to an easier and longer existence? Are these actions somehow a version of my spiritual insurance? Too often my answer is “Yes.” I pass some sort of spiritual judgement and feel superior.
No matter how safe our society may be, death and suffering are very real in our fallen world. Jesus has the prescription here, “Repent or you will likewise perish.” The promise of the Gospel is not that our repentance will somehow exempt us from suffering or having our blood mingled with our sacrifices. In fact, taking up our cross daily is the opposite. Jesus is relaying in a very real way that the rain does fall on both the righteous and the wicked. His message is that if we repent, then death doesn’t equate to perishing. As St. Francis would say it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Let us constantly repent of our assumed spiritual superiority over those who suffer.