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Third Sunday of Lent

“The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” (1 Cor. 1:25)

A “fool” is a person who is considered by society to be mad, irrational, imprudent and unwise.

If that’s so, then …

Saul of Tarsus was a fool.
He gave up the role of being a man of great standing in the Jewish world of his time. A fearless leader, he was determined to rid the Jewish community of the Messiah Movement that centered on Jesus of Nazareth. Instead, after a mystical experience in which he heard Jesus himself say to him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Paul changed not only his name, but his entire life by becoming the most passionate and zealous preacher of all the early Christians. He became so important that a full half of the New Testament is about Paul, and his own epistles were the earliest writings about Jesus the Christ.

Francis of Assisi was a fool.
Born into a wealthy family, he lost his zeal for a life of luxury and privilege and instead became a man dedicated to utter poverty and the existence of a beggar. As the founder of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), Francis became one of the most popular of all saints. Our present Pope has taken his name.

Dorothy Day was a fool.
An American journalist, social activist, and devout Catholic convert, she helped establish a movement called the Catholic Worker. To this day, this movement continues to combine direct aid for the poor and the homeless. The Catholic Church has presently opened the cause for her canonization and refers to her with the title “Servant of God.”

Oscar Romero was a fool.
A bishop of the Catholic Church in El Salvador, he spoke out courageously against poverty, social injustice, assassinations, and torture. He himself was assassinated by the brutal Salvadorian regime while offering Mass. As his canonization process continues, many already speak of him as “San Romero,” the unofficial patron of El Salvador.

Mother Theresa was a fool.
A winner of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, she has recently been beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.” Her work, and that of her fellow Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, has included running hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, orphanages for abandoned children, soup kitchens, schools, and mobile clinics amongst the poorest of the poor.

People of the Old Testament such as: Abraham, Moses, David, and all the “barren” women who bore children way past their prime were “fools”: Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth. And, of course, one of the greatest of the “fools,” Mary, the child bride who “foolishly” said yes to an angel!

Jesus of Nazareth was a fool too.
As our Gospel reading today points out so clearly, Jesus performed an act that is described in all four Gospel accounts. He went into the holiest place imaginable at that time, the Temple of Jerusalem, and displayed divine anger that resonated so deeply that it led to his death on a cross. His words still ring out down through the centuries: “… stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” The rage he displayed was once again an attack on those who extracted excessive costs and taxes on the poor and the defenseless.

When you consider all these “fools,” and so many others that could be named, it becomes crystal clear that, for some odd reason, God likes “fools”.

Maybe what is so attractive to God is their emptiness, their willingness to be filled with a Power greater than themselves.

Which then leaves you and me with a question to answer this Lent:
Are we ready to take the next step into “foolishness”?

Ted Wolgamot, Psy.D.

Art by Jim Matarelli
Sister Rachel’s Quote of the Week

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