Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Daily Office Reflection: When Bad Things Happen...

Awakening, 2010, jfd+
Psalms 119:49-72 * 49, (53); Ecclesiastes 3:1-15; Galatians 2:11-21; Matthew 14:1-12

What do we say when bad things happen to good people? In the Gospel selection for today, we have the brutal and senseless death of John the Baptist. A few friends of mine like to say when things like this happen around us, "Sh*t happens, then ya die." There is a fatalism in that point of view that I find it hard to buy into. 

Here is this individual, doing God's work, toiling selflessly, who is destroyed at the whim, and self-centered willfulness of a spoiled child and mother. Where is God in that? Where is God in the death of child, who falls off a slide and breaks her neck? Where is God in the actions of the hijackers of September 11th? 

All those examples are where we don't find God. Where there is an absence of God. Where, sometimes, bad things do just happen to good people. But where we find God is in our response to those occurrences that can so flummox us. 

Did John the Baptist deserve to die in the manner he did? No. Perhaps his death, which is a precursor to the one waiting for Jesus, was a catalyst for a deeper and more rich ministry practiced by Jesus. This story, and Jesus' response, can be a model for us, in how we react to tragedy: not blaming God, but picking up the pieces, responding in compassionate and forward-moving ways, and doing our best to make something good and lasting out of the bad.

Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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