Ex 3:1-8,13-15; 1 Cor 10:1-6,10-12; Luke 13:1-9
– Fr Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau
Some pilgrims had come from Galilee to offer sacrifices in the temple, probably on the occasion of Easter. They made some provocative gestures, and finally, their words turned to action: some shoving and a fistfight. Pilate, then, ordered the massacre of the unfortunate Galileans.
Someone went to report to Jesus what had happened. Maybe he thought of drawing from him a severe judgment of conviction.
Jesus surprised his frantic and upset interlocutors. He keeps his calm and no uncontrolled word escapes from his mouth. Above all, he rules out the connection between the death of these people and the sins which they have committed. Then he invites us to learn a lesson from this incident: it should read—he says—with a call to conversion. To clarify his thoughts, he recalls another piece of news: the death of eighteen people, caused by the collapse of a tower. It probably occurred during the construction of an aqueduct at the Pool of Siloam. These people—says Jesus—were not punished because of their sins. They died of misfortune; others could have been in their place. This event, too, is to be read as a call to conversion. Jesus’ answer seems to evade the issue.
Jesus does not comment directly on the crime committed by Pilate. He does not want to get involved in those useless conversations where one is limited to swear and to curse. He is certainly not insensitive to the sufferings and misfortunes. He is moved to tears for love of his country. However, he knows that aggression, disdain, anger, hatred, desire for revenge are useless, indeed, are counterproductive. These feelings only lead to reckless actions that complicate the situation even more.
The call of Jesus to conversion is a call to change the way of thinking. He invites us to intervene at the root of evil. It is useless to pretend that one can change something by simply replacing those who hold power. If the newcomers do not have a new heart, not follow a different logic, everything remains as before. It would be like changing the actors of a show without changing the role that they must perform. That is why Jesus does not adhere to the explosion of collective outrage against Pilate. He calls us to conversion, proposes a change in mentality. Only people who have become different, one person with a new heart can build a new world. This is the ultimate solution.