But many of us do harbor the thought that a person is responsible for what happens to them.
We hear of someone getting arrested and we assume they must have done something wrong.
Someone gets ill, and we say, how’d they catch it?
Someone’s child gets into trouble and we look to the parents to see what went mistake they made.
The truth is often there is no a simple causal link
between what a person does and what happens to them in the end.
Some situations come along without anyone asking for it, through no fault of one’s own.
In the end, Jesus does not answer the question of who to blame for human suffering.
Instead he challenges his listeners to examine their own lives.
He said, These people weren’t any worse than you—
“but unless you repent you will all perish as they did.”
Jesus wanted his followers to stop analyzing other people’s situation
as if they were on higher moral ground.
That’s because to Jesus all people are sinners; we’re all in the same boat.
I am not a criminal, but I have had greedy impulses.
I haven’t killed anyone because of reckless driving, but I have made poor choices behind the wheel.
Sin is sin—there aren’t big ones and little ones in God’s eyes.
According to Jesus, the blame game needs to end.
The way to do this is through repentance- that is, looking into our own souls, not judging another person’s.
Repentance interrupts the disastrous cycle of retaliation and justification.
Instead of justifying ones’ own actions and point of view,
repentance helps us take responsibility for the ways in which we have contributed to the situation.
Instead of escalating conflict, repentance seeks to make amends and to right wrongs.
Repentance replaces the dead end cycle of blame and judgment with the possibility of a new beginning.
The new beginning of a second chance and forgiveness.
So often the idea of repentance sounds dreary and depressing
But Jesus likens it to a fig tree, that when given a second chance, bears sweet and abundant fruit.
Isaiah compares it to a lavish feast. It is an invitation to what our soul longs for.
So why would we resist it?
Adult relationships are complex; there are a lot of issues in which our culpability is not black and white.
But that day on the playground so long ago taught me something important
That dealing with your own guilt and shame doesn’t feel good in the short run, but it frees you in the long run.
And in that sense, there is really nothing better.
So today, take a little time to make your inventory and change a few things in your life around.
Let go of that hurt just a little bit.
Give up your need to be right. Say I am sorry.
Let go of the great weight you have been carrying around.
Belly up to the banquet of repentance and forgiveness
So that you may bear fruit that nourishes and blesses those around you.