The Jews attribute calamities or disasters to sin. People immediately equate the tragic death of Jewish pilgrims to sinfulness. Pilate, paranoid about the big crowd, is in fact responsible for their death. Jesus emphasizes that it was not the sinfulness of the pilgrims that cost their lives. Neither was it sin that caused 18 workers to perish in the job site in Siloam where they were constructing a tower.
Jesus is very much in touch with the plight of ordinary people. His heart goes out to victims of tragedies, whether caused by accidents or by the machinations of an evil leader like Pilate. Jesus rejects people’s belief that disasters are caused by sin. Sin is separation from God, and sin entails a willful disobedience against God. Sin, in itself, is a disaster.
Gospel • LUKE 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “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! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”
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