Third Sunday of Lent 2019

Dear Friends in Christ ,

3rd Sunday of Lent 2019

In today’s Gospel Jesus comments on two hot topics of discussion – two tragic incidents that had recently occurred. The first of these concerned the killing of some Galileans while there were offering sacrifice, probably in the Jerusalem temple at Passover. Pilate was notorious for his brutal attitude towards the Jewish people and the practice of their faith. The second incident was probably a construction accident at the Siloam reservoir at Jerusalem, resulting in the death of eighteen people.

Sadly, then as now, such random and tragic events were interpreted as divine retribution. People of a religious fundamentalist persuasion often claim God’s judgement in a way that is cold, callous and erroneous – be it the terrible outbreak of AIDs in the early 1980’s or the attack on the World Trade Centre Towers in New York in 2011. Terrible human tragedies are interpreted to suit people’s poor theology.

This all has its roots in the Old Testament. In the book of Job for example, Eliphaz, in a wonderful spirit or self-righteous condemnation, says to poor Job: ‘Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plough evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they perish…’

Jesus rejected this teaching and sought to correct it. On one occasion, on encountering a blind man he was asked by his disciples, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? But he immediately corrected this heresy: ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents…’ Jesus taught that good fortune or disaster, blessing or curse, success or failure is no indication or our spiritual state before God because God causes the sun to shine on all of us, the righteous and the unrighteous. Today isn’t the time to cast aspersions or to accuse or make assumptions about how God thinks or acts because today is the time for repentance. God’s mercy and kindness gives us time to repent and change, but one day we will be required to give an account of our lives to the living God.



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