There are certain events in which we participate or hear about that do not seem to fit within our normal expectations of how things are to work. Such events cry for an explanation, especially when they appear to be random, arbitrary or call into question our sense of justice or orderliness. This text from Luke presents Jesus with two such events, both having to do with suffering that appears to be undeserved or excessive.
Like those who came to Jesus seeking an explanation for such events, it is tempting for us to make sense of or protect ourselves by attributing fault or blame to those who suffered. For Jesus, however, it is not a matter of who is more or less sinful or at fault. It is instead a reminder that apart from God's love and our willingness to live in that love there is no meaningful future for any of us.
May our temptation to find fault and blame be replaced by a willingness to love and serve. Amen.
Luke 13:1-9 (NRSV)
1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?
3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.
4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them--do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?
5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."
6 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.
7 "So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?'
8 "He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.
9 "'If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"