The big black headlines from the Jerusalem Times shouted, “Building in Capitol Center Collapses. 18 Known Dead!” Yesterday at 2:11 PM, the old Roman monument on a crowded Siloam Ave. collapsed with a great rumble. Dense clouds of dust hampered the rescue efforts. Three children survived. An investigation is underway.
Jesus refers to this story in Luke 13:4: “What about those who died? Do you suppose the collapse proves that they were worse than all other people there? No indeed!” Jesus attacks one of the most common answers of his time, and ours: Disasters, bad things, happen to bad people. Sickness, hunger, loss of a job, blindness, auto accidents and all things like that happen to sinful people. The worse sinner you are, the worse things go for you. God sends suffering as punishment. Jesus says, “All that is a lie.” Over in Mt. 5:45, he sets the record straight, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” If the wind and rain build into a tornado, the storm does not have some evil being with a joy stick from a video game directing the path of the storm to hit known sinner’s houses only. It is useless to ask why the storm blew away the trailer with the pregnant mom and two kids and left the meth house untouched.
In the time of Jesus a common response by survivors said that the falling stones from the tower had 18 names carved on them ahead of time by God. As Jesus said, “No indeed!” If there was any guilt and responsibility for the fall, then it would have been with the Jerusalem Streets and Public Monuments Dept. for poor maintenance or failure to rope it off. In fact, the workers became heroes as they frantically were able to save the three kids. Graft, greed, corruption, payoffs, and violence kept this Dept running. The worst ones in all Jerusalem got praised as heroes.
In the Old Testament, in the book of the Amos, the prophet has a question that addresses our situation. He wants to know, “Why do GOOD things happen to BAD people?” That’s backwards, but not really, because we get the same confusing answer when we ask it this way, “Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?” Either way, we get no good answers. In fact, we hardly know for sure why anything happens, let alone if it is good or bad. What makes us do that? Because we want to make sense out of all the unknowns, anxieties, and uncertainties. We will never find out. It is a waste of time to ask why? We need to work on WHAT to do next. What shall we do in these confusing COVID-19 days? Wear a mask. Why did China do this and why did World Health Organization do that? Who cares! Wear a mask. If you can bump elbows in greeting from six feet away, put it on Facebook. I’ll have to see it to believe it. Why did our government drag its feet in the pandemic response? Who cares? Stay home and keep your grandmother alive. COVID-19 is like the rain. It is falling on us all alike, so put up your umbrella/mask and stay healthy.