Universal call to penance

In today’s Gospel (Luke 13), for the third Sunday of Lent, Jesus calls all his listener (and everyone) to repentance. He brings up this somewhat mysterious event of the falling of the “Tower of Siloam”; mysterious, because as far as I know, Jesus’ reference to it is the only recorded one (I could be wrong). Jesus uses this tragedy to make the point that we all need to repent and do penance. Something like a building falling on you can happen to anyone, regardless of their current moral situation. We all have to be vigilant, and be sorry for our sins. It is not that tragedies happen to sinners (as punishment, or as a way to point them out); rather, we are all sinners, and need to face that fact.

Today, we are in a society that experiences many tragedies: war; injustice; offences against the dignity of human life and the person, not to mention the many natural disasters that make us or our neighbors suffer. It saddens us to witness this level of tragedy, amplified by the power of instant communications on the broadest scale. We, too, can wonder, what has this person or this group of people done wrong to deserve such suffering and, perhaps, punishment? We don’t have the answer, though in faith we believe everything will come to light and understanding at the end of time. In the meantime, let us heed Jesus’ universal call to penance, secure in God’s mercy, and sure that our sufferings, united to the Cross of Jesus, not only point to the fact that we are sinners, but, more importantly, that God’s mercy is always within our reach, converting each tragedy (little or small) into an occasion of trust in a higher wisdom and power. Watch those towers!

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