Why Do We Not All Perish?

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

In Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, a Franciscan brother undertakes to justify the ways of God to man in colonial Peru when the bridge between Lima and Cuzco collapsed, killing five people. After six years of careful investigation into the lives of the victims, his researchers are condemned as heretical and he is burned along with them. The Lord Jesus reproves such investigation, too, when in today's Gospel he warns his contemporaries not to suppose that those who died in the recent collapse of a tower in Jerusalem were more guilty than everyone else in the city. He doesn't say that they weren't guilty; only that they weren't more guilty. And he warns: "I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" What lets him speak this way? He thinks that accident and death, suffering and disease are all of them obviously a function of guilt, either Adam's or our own. They provoke no question. What is surprising is not fault and its conswquences, but forgiveness and grace. Why, if we repent, will we nonetheless not perish? Why will God forgive us? God forgives us because repentance is a share in the suffering of Christ, and Christ has suffered for us all and for all sin. That is why he can speak as he does.

Reflection based on Luke 13:1-9
Father Guy Mansini, OSB

O God our Father, teach us to trust in your providence
in all things and all events, and most of all to look to
the sufferings of Christ and his cross for consolation in
every trouble and every grief.

Today's suggested penance: Volunteer in a shelter, a soup kitchen, or a tutorial center.