Summary: For the fig tree to be in a vineyard, it was planned and nurchured. Int he parable the owner give a grace period before judgment.
In the scripture before today’s reading Jesus is talking to crowds of people. He warned his disciples about the Pharisees, but they are not the real problem. There is someone else that can mislead you. It is God that you want to be happy with you, not man.
He teaches that just because things are going good here on earth does not mean all is really going well. He is telling his listeners that if they don’t have a relationship with God they will have a problem. He warns that this world has all kinds of things to attract you which are just distractions. Making you less than ready.
Most of Chapter 12 is about being ready for when the master returns. That there is a reward or punishment based on your actions.
He talks about the coming time of division even within families. Then he talks about how people see signs in the weather, but not the signs of the coming judgment from God.
Today’s scripture starts with people telling Jesus about an incident in the temple. A time when a group of Galileans were killed and how their blood was mingled with their sacrifices.
Seems like a rather obscure reference and historically we don’t know if the event was actually recorded. Her is a chance the Jewish Historian Josephus has recorded the event in his writings. He records Five occurrences when Pilot had his solders enter the temple and people were killed. There is one reference to an event where the followers of Judas Gaulonitis or Judas of Galilee instructed his followers not to pay the tribute to Caesar during Passover, that tax was collected at the temple. They describe Pilot being enraged and ordering the people killed on the spot.
It is likely that this is the event that the people were mentioning. Some believe it was similar in time.
Now let’s consider the tower of Silom, We can guess it was near and even by the pool of Silom. The people that had physical infirmities lay by the pool waiting to be healed by an angel that stirred the waters. It was not far from the temple. It was a place where people cleansed themselves before going to the temple.
So for today’s lesson people bring up a horrible event in the temple where some number of people were murdered by Pilot for not paying taxes. It happened in the temple court evidentially at the time when the sacrifice was being made.
Jesus response is a question: Were these people bigger sinners that all Galileans?
To get to today’s news, were the people on the commuter trains in Madrid bigger sinners that other Spaniards? Home fires, or car accidents or business failures they can be a sign of judgment, God’s action …Right?????
Jesus had been teaching that there is a judgment coming. He clearly states that the circumstances, no matter how horrible, were not an indication of the righteousness of the people that suffered and died.
People of the day and ( it is probably not too different today) believed that bad things happen to bad people. God knows how we act and when something bad happens and someone is affected … well they just must not have been right. God punished them.
No…. No No, Bad things happen to perfectly good and righteous people all the time. Jesus confirms that in today’s scripture. In fact it seems that this is probably as clear a statement that God does not use punishment and tragedy to directly get our attention and any you can find in scripture. He will use those opportunities to raise our awareness and dependence on him.
He tells us twice - I tell you, no! and we have two examples, a horrible act of terror at a time of worship, and an accident. He does not justify the human actions that were involved, but more importantly he does not judge the victims in the two events that all.
All he does is reinforce his discussion that you have to be ready because you don’t know what is going to happen, some attack or accident. You too might parish!
I guess all of us have received those tracts, little slips of paper that have a picture of a hearse that say are you ready? Or “Do you KNOW where you will be if you wake up tomorrow dead?”
I don’t know how effective those things are. But I guess Jesus was saying something similar. It was not because they were unrighteous that they died but if they were ready? If they had the relationship with God then it was not a total loss.
He was telling his hearers that God does not act like they think he does.
God does not shower good times on the ones with a relationship and bad times on the ones without. The life here is temporary and belongs to someone else. He does touch people in this world but only in ways that he sees meet the goal of leading people to a relationship.