People came to Jesus with news of innocent people massacred on the orders of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. They had been killed while they were offering sacrifice to God. Jesus mentions another tragedy; eighteen people killed when a tower fell on them. Today, we hear news of innocent people suffering and dying in Ukraine. Is there a meaning to these tragedies?
We may wonder if, somehow, the suffering of the innocent reflects God’s will. Jesus’ answer is a firm ‘No.’ God gave life to each one of us, and he is the God of life, and not of death. Today’s First Reading, from the Book of Genesis, shows us that God is the champion of those who are suffering. God sees the suffering of his people in Egypt, and plans to lead them to freedom.
The Gospel parable of the fig tree shows that God does not give up on us. Like the patient gardener, God gives us time to repent and to become fruitful. God’s response to human suffering is to send his only Son into the world, to suffer all that we do. Jesus went to Jerusalem, knowing that he would suffer and die there; but he did not hesitate to offer his own life to set us free from sin and death.
We know that we will die. By turning back to God, we can make our lives meaningful and fruitful, so that we have no need to fear death.