Luke 13:1-5 (CEV)
1 About this same time Jesus was told that Pilate had given orders for some people from Galilee to be killed while they were offering sacrifices. 2 Jesus replied:
Do you think that these people were worse sinners than everyone else in Galilee just because of what happened to them? 3 Not at all! But you can be sure that if you don’t turn back to God, every one of you will also be killed. 4 What about those eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Do you think they were worse than everyone else in Jerusalem? 5 Not at all! But you can be sure that if you don’t turn back to God, every one of you will also die.
Ever turn on the news or scroll past a story on social media that made your heart just sink?
Those were people like me …
Doing things that I do …
That could have been me!
Jesus refers to a tower collapse in Siloam that killed 18 people. He could just as easily have referred to a flash flood that happened last week in Arizona that killed at least nine. These kinds of unexpected events are heartbreaking and scary because they are so unpredictable, but at least they don’t feel targeted. (Although if it happens during your baptism, you might be a bit more concerned.)
The killing of the three Galileans on the other hand – while offering their sacrifices, no less – feels personal to the Galileans Jesus is walking with.
It’s yet another example – after countless thousands of examples – that the political system that Jesus and his contemporaries live under is at odds with the religious system that they are a part of.
And it’s also another example of how we react when we feel that the world is out to get us.
When it feels like the political decisions being made today are directly pointed at hurting people like us.
When it feels like the health care system, justice system, or immigration system has it in for us.
When it feels like corporations, utilities or multinationals are skimming it all off the top and leaving us to foot the bill and bare the brunt of the injustices around us.
“When current events become personal, Jesus, what do we do?” say the people following him that day.
And his answer is very simple: “you follow me”.
This system that isn’t working isn’t working because it’s broke. It puts the wrong priorities in the wrong places and comes out with an obviously wrong result – and there’s no indication that’s about to change anytime soon!
So in the face of broken systems and unjust decisions – in the face of problems that are well beyond our pay grade to solve – our response is to follow Jesus in acting justly to the people around us, loving mercy in the way that we deal with ourselves and with those whose paths we cross, and walking humbly with God – asking that he lead us and direct us to living more fully the life that he came to live and die to make possible for us participate in.
And the thing about living this way – the thing about completely living into this way of living – is that it starts to matter less and less whether we live or die, whether random things happen to us, whether we have to engage with our broken and chaotic world, and more and more matters that we are living fully out of the mission that Jesus gave us as individuals and families and communities to live.
- What headline have you been sucker-punched by recently?
- What worries/anxieties/anger/fear went through your head when you read it?
- Jesus’ response to all sorts of things in the Gospels was to lean into love – what would that look like in response to this current event?