Sr. Helen came to supper with an air of irritation. A "Catholic" radio show had provoked her ire: the host was saying that the raging, destructive fires in California were God's punishment for (name your favorite sin). I had had a similar conversation with a parent last week who was sure that autism is God's punishment of a contraceptive culture. And it's not too long ago to remember when preachers were saying that Hurricane Katrina was God's chastisement of New Orleans and AIDS was God's punishment for homosexual sin.
The funny thing is, I'll bet if you were to ask any of those people if they believed in God's goodness, they would probably be rather dismissive about it: "Of course I do." And then they'd hurry to affirm even more strongly, "But God is also just."
For some reason, it seems safer dealing with a just God than with a good God.
That tells me that the Good News still hasn't gotten through to many of us who say we believe in the Gospel. Not that we don't all need to "live in continual conversion of heart" (as Bl. James Alberione understood from the Divine Master), but that conversion has to have more of a foundation than the human propensity for failure. Seeing "punishment" everywhere is the same as seeing evil everywhere: the gaze is displaced, from God to the fallen creature. But the Bible says, "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith."
It is time to look at Jesus.