Recently there was a ground-breaking medical study that made headlines in the newspaper. The headline read: “Breathing Oxygen Linked To Staying Alive.” I am sure that headline made every reader feel superior – “I haven’t made the mistake of those folks who died!”
Untimely deaths, tragedies, are in the news every day. We rewind these tragedies to understand what happened and why. But we may also rewind these tragedies to reassure ourselves that we won’t make the same mistakes, we’re better than they are.
Is that the best use of tragedy? To distance ourselves, deny any similarity with the victims, to look askance in pride?
In this Sunday’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus directly addresses the question, what is the meaning of tragic death? He sees into the hearts of his listeners and detects their prideful disdain, blaming victims for their own mistakes. Then Jesus offers us a surprising and powerful way to respond to tragedy.