Have you ever said or heard it said, in the wake of some tragedy, “It’s God’s will”? I always cringe when I hear someone say that, implying that if God is behind all bad accidents, we shouldn’t feel so bad. What kind of an ogre does that make God to be? Does God really make bad things happen? The book of Wisdom says: “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” (Wisdom 1:13) In today’s Gospel Jesus recalls for his listeners two well-known tragedies and asks rhetorically whether they befell the victims because they were greater sinners and so were being punished by God. “By no means!” is his answer. God does not set us up like that. The Galileans suffered because of the brutality of Pontius Pilate. Those killed by the falling tower were victims of bad construction or engineering.
When Jesus says, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” he is not telling them or us to look out because God is out to get us with an accident just waiting to catch us unawares. Rather to “perish as they did” means to perish without the opportunity of repentance. Life is fragile and death can come when we least expect it. Accidents really do happen. Since we do not know the day or the hour, we should strivealways to walk in God’s grace, free of sin and ready to stand before the judgment seat of God. Like the fig tree in today’s Gospel, God gives us every chance to produce good fruit, through the sacraments, especially the sacrament of penance.
The sacrament of penance is available at St. Charles on Mondays at 5:00 PM and Saturdays at 3:00 PM, and at St. Peter on Saturdays at 6:00 PM. The priests of the Chippewa Falls Deanery will assist with penanceservices during the week of March 31. Ours will be at St. Charles on Monday evening, April 1, at 7:00. Do not put it off until tomorrow; tomorrow may be too late.
This Monday, is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the original feast of the Incarnation of God the Son as Man. The 5:30 Mass on Monday will be enhanced with music for the solemnity. Only nine months more until Christmas!
Remember that the Fridays of Lent, the day of our Lord’s passion and death, are days of penance, characterized by abstinence from eating meat at least by those who are 14 and older. I encourage families to come to the Stations of the Cross at 6:00 on Wednesday evenings at St. Charles. “The Way of the Cross” or “The Stations of the Cross” is a centuries-old devotion that gives to us who cannot make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land the opportunity to walk with Christ along the Via Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Street”). Guided by passages from the scriptures and prayers from the liturgy, we are able to meditate upon our Lord’s suffering for the sake of our redemption. Nowadays there are few families who come. This is really sad, since families miss out on this opportunity to pray together, and children lose this opportunity to learn the story of our Lord’s passion and its meaning for us. So make it a point to come to the Stations on the Wednesdays which remain this Lent.
Pray the rosary this week for people affected by flooding. Pray for people estranged from the Church, that they may seek reconciliation through a good confession. Pray for the needs of the Church in our diocese and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.