Many generally hold that you receive what you deserve. That somehow people earn what they get.  

It is a common and satisfying explanation.  Thus we say such things as ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’, and ‘you reap what you sow’ (Galatians 6:7-8).

This morning the news was that within a 2½ hour window yesterday evening eight people were shot in Chicago.  Alarming.  Do people get what they deserve?
 
The universe operates in both clear and mysterious ways.  Depending on what you see.  From a distance they are stars shining in the night sky.  Under scrutiny scientists discover dark matter. You would think that long ago we had finished with the finding and cataloging of all living things; Genesis 2:19-20.  But in the most unlikely places we continue to discover and name new species of frogs and lichens.   What do we actually notice, see, understand?
 
So far this week my count is 24 or more people shot in Chicago.  It is awfully hot, a mitigating factor.
 
From a distance such as a distant rural county or certain Chicago suburbs it’s clear what we are seeing.  Gangs, drugs, heat-crazed.  People get what they deserve, right?
 
Examine closer.  We discover details which disturb us.
  7 year old Heaven Sutton and 10 year old Kitanna PetersonShot as they help mom run a neighborhood candy stand, as they cool down playing with their friends in an opened fire hydrant. 
 
Deserve what they get?  We can hear voices rising, explaining that parents ought to know better than let children …. that this just shows how choices made long ago result in …  that policies create conditions leading to …   Just all makes sense doesn’t it?  From where we are. 
 
Jesus, the man born blind, the disciples and the Pharisees.  John 9.  Whose fault was it?  Who sinned?  So many of us are analysts.  But Jesus sees and acts.  
 
To Pharisee and disciple alike the man is barely noticed because it is so clear what happened.  If he didn’t deserve to suffer then obviously his suffering was the result of his parents’ sin, ‘… they should have known better …  we understand what’s going on, our hands are clean of it, we have no responsibility other than alms giving to express our holiness from time to time as we are moved.  Amen.’
 
What is going on in Chicago this summer?  Does it signify anything?
 
Jesus said “I am the light of the world” and “we must work the works of him who sent me” and “that God’s works might be revealed” when asked who’s to blame for this mess.  (John 9:1-5)
 
Jesus was saying, still is saying, people of God do not withdraw.  Engage in the world.  Pay no mind to the common and satisfying explanations.  Instead, notice.  See.  ‘Do something’ continues to be the mantra of a 21at century Salvation Army.  Not only the Army’s.  Of anyone who would do pure and undefiled religion, “to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
 
Even care for mothers and fathers who live in fear of becoming suddenly childless this very hot Chicago summer.
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