Third Sunday in Lent - Year C - 28th February

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

The idea still persists that an accident or misfortune is a punishment from God for some sin, either committed personally or by a family member, even in a past generation. Pilate's brutal act, and the fall of a tower reported to Jesus, show that neither man nor nature have ever been a respecter of persons, ranks or titles.

 Whenever bad things happen, the human instinct is to try to grapple. We all want to make sense of the senseless.

 We want to know why certain things occur. 'Why?' is a good question, investigations can help prevent future tragedy. 'Why' is only bad when it leads us into assigning blame and guilt to people that do not deserve it.

 Or rather who do not merit it any more or less than we do.

 Jesus tried to move people on from that horrible idea of God and tells the story of the fruitless fig tree.

A tree was drawing life and strength from the soil but was producing nothing. It was useless. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who take out more than they put in and those who put in more than they take out. Jesus often reminds us that we will be judged according to the opportunities we have had. So it's fair for us to ask ourselves, "Of what use have you been in this world? What have you contributed to love and life?" We're expected to leave the world a little better than we found it. If we fail, the parable tells us that, like the disappointing tree, we can always count on God giving us a second chance.

 But if we refuse chance after chance, the day might come when all will be lost - not because God shut us out but because we shut ourselves out.

 We could ask ourselves what radical steps we need to take this Lent to make us ready for the glory of resurrection faith at Easter? So, no-one knows all the answers.

But this we do know: God does not send the bad things. When misfortune overtakes us, we are not alone; God is with us, offering grace and strength.

We are not supposed to be passive. Whatever happens to us, let's try to pass on things better than we found them, and leave the rest to a compassionate, loving God. .

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.