Armodoxy for Today
This week of the Advent Journey is dedicated to what theologians refer to as, “The Problem of Evil.” Simply put, it’s the incongruity of believing in a good God, who is all powerful and being faced with the reality that evil exists in the world. In other words, given that evil is real with headliners such as cancer, war, molestations, earthquakes, and famine, either God is not all good or God is not all powerful. Why would a good God, who is all powerful, allow evil to exist?
Evil is a problem which has perplexed people since the first-time villagers had to pick up after a devastating earthquake or a lightning bolt created a forest fire that wreaked havoc for people and all the members of the animal kingdom. In this day and age, when we understand that earthquakes are caused by the shifting of tectonic plates, and lightning bolts are the result of charged clouds grounding, God doesn’t need to enter the equation. However, for theologians and clergy who make a case for a good and omnipotent God, forming an answer is called a theodicy. It follows that if God allows these evil, then is it possible that evil is a punishment from God? People of good faith, can easily reach this conclusion, and figure illness or death are paybacks from God for wrongs you have committed. And so, the question was brought to Jesus.
On this Sunday of Advent the Church offers the Gospel reading from Luke chapter 13. Here, there were two incidents that people perceived to be delivered as punishments from God. The stories – one of Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices and the other was of a tower which fell in Siloam causing the death of 18 people – were the focus of this inquiry of Jesus. On today’s scale, it would be like us asking Jesus if the Indonesians who died in last month’s earthquake perished because they were sinners? Or was it because of the sins of the Ukrainians that bombs fell on their cities?
In the passage, Jesus answers, Do you think that they were worse sinners than all the other because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Under no uncertain terms, Jesus gives the definitive answer that evil is not the punishment of God upon us! The idea that God sits in heaven waiting for us to make a wrong move so he can blast us with a lightning bolt is as absurd as it sounds. And Jesus emphatically gives us a big N-O!
So then, why evil? Can’t God vaporize all evil? Or is it that he just doesn’t want to? We will pick up with these questions tomorrow, on our journey through Advent.
We pray Shnorhali’s 15th hour: Christ, guardian of all, let your right hand protect and shelter me by day and by night, while at home and while away, while asleep and while away that I may never fall into sin. Amen.