Seeing the world through a theological lens...
Luke 13: 1-5
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.
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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.
When things go wrong in our lives, it's easy to blame God. We want a way to explain our misfortune, find a cause for our illness, a reason for our loss, as if everything that happens can be explained in a spiritual way. You've heard it more than once, especially in the church: "everything happens for a reason," which then leads to our favorite go-to verse, all things work together for good...
I have a friend who was raised this way, to look for a spiritual meaning in all things. Once while we were in seminary, her son's cat died. The family was heartbroken, but as they were going through the various stages of grief, my friend tried to work out the reason for the death of the cat. Was it perhaps that because the son moved out, that the cat shut down? Had it been to teach them something larger? Was it to bring the family closer together?
As my friend posed these questions to me, all I could think to say was, "Sometimes cats just die." She paused. And then she laughed, "Yes, sometimes cats just die."
Stuff happens. We get sick. Loved ones die. Towers fall. Tyrants like Pilate are cruel. Innocents suffer. Yet the tragedies in our lives leave us scratching our heads; Why? How could they? Did they do something wrong? Did WE?
Jesus asks the disciples to think about these questions: Do you think those whom Pilate slaughtered were somehow better or worse than you are? Or the people killed in the tower accident, did they do something wrong that this accident took their lives?
The answer? No. (Of course it was no. All are equal in God's eyes).
But, says Jesus, you need to see things differently (repent).
Jesus speaks the truth: the world is suffering because of our way of life. He asks us to repent. We embrace violence, and live by trampling on one another, and it needs to stop, and we have it within ourselves to stop it. He asks us to live differently. He asks us to stop the blame-game of trying to find out why another suffered in order to then act in a way to keep ourselves and our loved ones out of harms way.
It's not always the fault of someone or something or even God when calamity befalls us. Sometimes cats just die. But we can embrace a life of non-violence and compassion that holds all, includes all, and cares for all. So when we do finally leave this earth, no one is left wondering what we did wrong, but can experience the legacy of truth and peace we've lived.