In today’s Gospel, we read about two accounts of horrific deaths. The first is at the hands of Pontius Pilate, who has not only ordered the execution of Jesus’ fellow Galileans but had their blood mixed with “the blood of their sacrifices.” The second incident, Jesus himself brought up regarding the tragic accident in which eighteen people died “when the tower of Siloam fell on them.”
In both cases Jesus rejected the common notion of the time that these incidents were caused by God’s punishment and focused instead on the importance of repentance. Jesus stated quite emphatically, that, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did” (cf. Lk 13:1-5)!
Jesus was emphatic about helping his followers understand the purpose of his coming. Jesus is the way to the truth of eternal life and fulfillment and meaning in this life. Yet, to receive the gift of his invitation, people needed to repent from their focus on self, misunderstandings of God, and the false substitutions that the world offered and instead, repent, have a change of mind, and turn back to God, the source of our being.
We live in uncertain times as did those of the first century. We still live in a fallen world. We do not know the time or the hour our life will be taken. We often do not want to think about our death, yet, if we do ponder it from time to time, we just might live the one life we have been given a little bit better. Each day we wake up and each breath we take is a gift. The most recent pipe bombs being shuffled through the mail reminds us how fragile life can be.
Jesus is present with us in our trials, pain, and suffering. Let us repent and surrender to him, the divine gardener, for help and allow him to cultivate our ground and fertilize us in such a way that we are renewed by his care and love, so to be healed, so to bear fruit that will last. For the time we are given, in communion and as collaborators with Christ, may we may be more patient, more kind, more loving, more understanding, more forgiving, more present, and more joyful.