Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lent 3c - Luke 13:1-9

There is no cause and effect between sin and a tragic death, but if you don’t repent you’ll suffer a tragic death. It seems as if Jesus’ answer to why bad things happen to people raises more questions, but maybe that is the point. Jesus challenges the need for a reason for why bad things happen because for us even a bad reason is more comforting than no reason at all. But then we have been curious from creation and like the first humans not willing to live with God knowing something we don’t, even if it means getting kicked out of the garden. And so we keep trying to put the puzzle together, though a good number of the pieces are missing. Jesus would have us live into God’s answer to Job’s why? “I’m not telling, but trust me anyway.” The answer that wants us to live with the question is like a fig tree that has had enough time to get busy doing what fig trees are meant to do but has not. Cutting it down to make room for another is the correct answer to three years of wasted waiting. But the gardener wants the owner to live with the question, “will it produce?” another year and while we would rush to the yes or no end of the parable I think as with most parables we are supposed to live with the question, which, of course, is God’s answer.


  1. Yes, this one is puzzling.
    I think, though, that the problem here is how we want to read the gospel as a message about "rewards for being good" and "punishment for being bad." I just don't think that's the essential point here.
    Instead, I think Luke is telling this story to show how all of creation is undergoing a rebirth. I think "repentance" here is not about asking for forgiveness for "being bad", but rather being willing to undergo a complete change of heart and orientation. If that shift occurs in us, we are part of the rebirth. If we hold out, we cut ourselves off from the source of that new Life.
    Still a puzzling passage, but that's what shows up for me.

  2. I think you're right and the change of heart is being willing to live with the unfinished puzzle.