“It’s just not fair,” the words uttered in our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel. “It’s just not fair,” words uttered by both student and teacher on a rainy day in October 2004. As a relatively young priest, I had just been assigned to teach full time in high school and, that year, as the schedule would have it, I had only freshmen classes — three English, two religions, as well as a home room.

A month into this brand new assignment,  “it” happened. What was “it,” you may ask? Well, nothing less than the tragedy of the Starburst incidence, something so legendary that, more than 10 years on, my former students still speak about it.

One day, as freshman religion was getting ready to depart, I heard a strange and inhuman cry. Assuming, as one might, that a beast of some kind had been wounded, I looked up to learn that the odd noise had come from one of my students. Some other delightful student thought it a good idea to place gum in the other student’s hair. It quickly became chaos, trying to keep my students in the room, gathering back the others who had departed to their next class, all so that I could play the detective, at least Father Brown, if not Sherlock Holmes, so that I might determine the culprit.

No one would fess up. The cries of “I didn’t do it, so why am I being punished?” and “It’s not fair,” echoed in Classroom 305. I thought to myself, that it wasn’t fair. No, it wasn’t fair for me. A few months earlier, I was a parish priest, and, if I may say so, a fairly effective one. Now, I was reduced to this — every teacher’s nightmare — a classroom of malcontent boys and total disorder. No, it wasn’t fair, but it was God’s will.

Eventually, the culprit was caught and many lessons were learned. I learned that I needed to stop fooling around and being the entertainer and get to the business, as unpleasant as it could be at times, of teaching! Sometimes, you get the gum in your hair! Sometimes, you are reassigned to an assignment for which you never asked. Sometimes, good people, people whom we love, suffer and die. Sometimes people whom we love can hurt us or betray us.

The truth is, we live in a fallen world. We live in a world where sin abounds. We live in a world where it is easier to give into our baser human desires and impulses. This is the reality in which we dwell. This is the bad news. Listen again to the words of the prophet from the first reading: “Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.”

However, here’s the good news: again, listen to the words of the prophet: “But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.” The good news is from Paul, in our second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians: “Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Yes, in our incarnate God, we have a God who is one like us in all things, but sin. Fully human, yet fully divine, this is a God who, in infinite glory, deigns to become man, while still remaining God. This Jesus of ours can understand us because he too has suffered, he too has lost, he too knows the pain of life just not being fair. Even his Heavenly Father knows what it means to say that life is not fair. Think about it, God the Father knows what it’s like to lose a child.

Sometimes, in our fallen world, life isn’t fair. But if we hold on, if we trust in the God who created us, who loves us, who offers us salvation, if we cling to the God of Hope, even the unfair things, even if they still hurt us, can offer us the hope we need to live in this life and to hold fast to the certainty of the next life. Even if it’s just a lesson learned, even if we learn that we can be strong and steadfast, something good can come out of the worst experiences of life. Hold on — out of every Good Friday comes Easter Sunday, out of every Crucifixion comes a resurrection. Life, at times, can be very unfair, but it’s our loving God who, as the psalmist reminds us, remembers his mercies that can begin the healing to make it fair.