If you go to the doctor and he tells you that you have cancer, what is the first question you will ask the doctor? Perhaps, “Are you sure?” or, “Why did it happen?”. You might say, “What did I do to get cancer? What did I do to deserve this?” Some people blame others, and even blame themselves.

We may, in the face of tragedy, say that God is paying us back for all our sins.

Yet, when a perfect baby is born, or when we win the lottery, we never say, “Why did I deserve this?” We expect good things should happen to us. We also expect that bad things should never happen to us.

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These are the questions that todays’ Gospel talks to us about. The apostles ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man, or his parents, that the man was born blind?” The answer is very important. Jesus tells them that neither the man nor his parents sinned. He was born blind so that the work of God might be seen in him.

Why a person survives a car crash, while all the others in the car die, the one who survives is not necessarily the least sinner in the group. The parents who give birth to a very sick child are no bigger sinners than those who have healthy babies.

There is sin in the world. But sin is not the explanation of every problem. Some people who suffer do break God’s laws, but other sinners do not suffer consequences of sin in this world.

We have to acknowledge our sinfulness and resolve not to keep repeating them.

When it comes to sin, no amount of human suffering can wipe out the consequences of sin. Good deeds do not make God love us more. God already loves us all more than anything. His suffering on the Cross is what forgave our sins. Our salvation is a gift of love and grace directly from God.

Sacred Scripture tells us clearly, despite what we like to think, that God does not deal with us according to our sins or lack of sins.

We tend to look at God as we see and judge ourselves and other people. We are icons of Christ, but God’s way is different to human thinking.

God does not demand punishment again and again. We find it hard to accept how much God loves each of us. When we ask, “What did we do to deserve this?” The answer is “nothing”. That is how much God loves us. None of us are unlovable by God. Jesus tries to explain to us very clearly that He is very merciful towards all sinners. God sees sinners more mercifully than we like to do. He does not talk about punishment for our past sins. He talks about forgiveness. This does imply that we must admit our sins and ask God for forgiveness. God’s mercy does not mean that we can do anything we want to. We have to acknowledge our sinfulness and resolve not to keep repeating them.

God is always for us, never against us. This is what we celebrate. This is why we thank God every Sunday in Church and every day of our lives in our prayers.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM