Gospel: Lk 13:1-9
One day, some people told Jesus what had occurred in the temple: Pilate had had Galileans killed, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this? No, I tell you. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.
And those eighteen persons in Siloah, who were crushed when the tower fell, do you think they were more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish, as they did.”
And Jesus continued, “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none. Then he said to the gardener, ‘Look here, for three years now I have been looking for figs on this tree, and I have found none. Cut it down, why should it continue to deplete the soil?’ The gardener replied, ‘Leave it one more year, so that I may dig around it and add some fertilizer; perhaps it will bear fruit from now on. But if it doesn’t, you can cut it down.’”
In 2013 in the Philippines two major events happened toward the end of the year. One was the Janet Lim-Napoles political scandal involving dozens of high-ranking officials who had conspired in a gigantic scam to embezzle the tax-payers’ money. The other event was the Super Typhoon Yolanda, which caused the death of more than 7,000 people.
Now some Christians connected these two separate events and said that the typhoon was sent by God as a punishment for the political scandal.
Well, today’s gospel reading should prove that such reasoning is pure nonsense. For in the case of the massacre of the Galileans in the temple and of the accidental death of 18 people due to a falling tower, Jesus forcefully argues that none of those victims deserved to die. And certainly no divine punishment was meted out because of someone else’s sins. What kind of justice would that be—killing the innocent in retaliation for the guilty?
No, things happen at random. Let us stop attributing to God actions which only a moral monster would perpetrate. As Jesus tells us, “the Father judges no one” (Jn 5:22). If he does not judge, how could he punish?