Our Gospel lesson today makes us think about real tragedies and why they happen (Luke 13:1-9). The basic question that is put to Jesus is whether one tragedy or another is caused by sin. His answer is clear; tragedy is not caused by sin. He goes on to give a warning; people should stop worrying about dead and become aware of the path they themselves travel.
Today, none of us would say that the victims are anything but innocent. Jesus, naturally, uses the question as an opportunity to teach. He says that there is need and opportunity to repent. Perhaps Jesus is simply reminding us that none of us are so good that we don’t need a bit of repentance. The parable of the fig tree reminds us that neither are any of us too bad; we are not beyond redemption and benefiting from the salvation Jesus wins for all of us, and for all time.
In the parable, the gardener has no particular investment in the fate of the fig tree. He simply offers to help the tree bear fruit and to give the tree another chance. That is one of the great and glorious things about God, God’s amazing love that offers each of us yet another chance to bear the fruit that God wants.
The world is not perfect and not everything happens as it should, nor is it arranged in such a way that only God’s people benefit. God’s redemptive power is at work in the world. Amid suffering, loss and evil, God is ushering in a creation of justice and love, peace and wholeness. Sin cannot hold us back from participating in this new order. God’s love will always win.