Word Alive in Manila Bulletin by Fr Bel San Luis SVD
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991 causing great devastation to Zambales and Pampanga provinces, many considered it as God’s wrath over two “cities of sin” located within those provinces.
The Mt. Pinatubo tragedy may be compared to the ones mentioned in the gospel of this 3rd Sunday of Lent. One of these was the ruthless murder ordered by Pilate of some Galileans while they were offering their temple sacrifices.
The other incident was a construction accident where 18 innocent people were crushed to death by a falling tower in Siloam (Lk 13,1).
Like the people in the gospel, we may be tempted to feel that the victims of destructive calamities were punished for their sins or meted divine retribution, gaba in Visayan parlance.
But Jesus warns us that it is not for us to judge people and their sins. No one but God really knows what is in the human heart.
Rather than judge the victims of tragedies or their perceived causes, we should learn from their experience by reminding us that we, too, will face eternal damnation unless we’re sorry for our sins and reform. “You will all come to the same end unless you turn away from your sins,“ Jesus says.
In our present milieu, we ask: “Why must we reform? Why bother to change or get rid of our negative traits?
The simple answer is because sin and evil deeds are obnoxious before God.
On the individual level, selfishness, greed, insensitivity are the cause of others untold sufferings and anguish. Consider the cold-blooded slaying of suspected drug dealers and other offenders; did the perpetrators ever think of the misery they inflicted on the orphaned families?