by Father Mark Goldasich
Somebody’s got to be the fool.
These wise words were spoken many times in Croatian by my Grandma Modrcin. The gist is: There are times when you’ve got to step up to be the bigger person but, in the process, you might be ridiculed as a fool.
For example, when your feelings have been hurt, you can nurse a bitter grudge, or you can make the first step toward reconciliation by forgiving the offender. You might look like a fool for doing this, but it’s the action of the bigger, more mature, person.
I guess my mind is on fools because April 1 is just about here. And who doesn’t enjoy a creative prank? One of my favorites is the following:
Ace and Priscilla were married for many years.
Whenever there was an argument, yelling could be heard all through the neighborhood well into the night.
The old man would shout, “When I die, I’ll dig my way up out of the grave and come back and haunt you for the rest of your life!”
Neighbors feared the old man, and Ace loved that.
Well, he finally died at the age of 98.
After the burial, Priscilla’s neighbors were concerned for her safety. They asked, “Aren’t you afraid that Ace may really be able to dig his way out of the grave and haunt you for the rest of your life?”
Priscilla grinned said, “Let him dig. I had him buried upside down . . . and I know that he’ll never ask for directions!”
Well played, Priscilla, well played.
What a fool Ace was to not appreciate the cleverness of his wife while he was alive. And what a fool to have spent his life berating his wife, rather than cherishing her. And what a fool to relish being feared by his neighbors rather than striving to be respected and loved.
This kind of fool is not what my grandma was talking about.
There’s another type of fool, though — one described by St. Paul:
“We are fools on Christ’s account. . . . When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently” (1 Cor 4:10a, 12b-13).
Living this way is foolish, right? To those who constantly chase after more possessions, we fools seek simplicity. When others strive for power and control, we foolishly embrace humility.
In contrast to those who preach, “Look out for Number One,” we fools tend to the needs of others. We fools practice forgiveness while others plot revenge. And in a society where nastiness and hatred so often dominate social media and personal interactions, we foolishly believe that every person deserves respect.
And we’re labeled fools when we believe that someone, with just a mustard seed of faith, can move mountains.
But we can’t help ourselves. Because we’ve seen it done by Jesus, who started a movement carried forward by other fools like Peter and Paul, Benedict, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Philip Neri, Térèse of Lisieux, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul I, Oscar Romero and countless others, like my grandma.
On April Fools’ Day, perhaps we can say this prayer, written by Father Ed Hays:
“O, Christ the Cosmic Clown, you dared to be God’s Fool and became a laughingstock and a scapegoat. Help me, your disciple. . . . Teach me your trick of how to rise above the horselaughs, how to leap from the pit of self-pity. Jesus, the Holy Fool, blindfold my eyes to insults so that I can see only with eyes of love, so that I may never return injury for injury.”
Yes, somebody’s got to be the fool. Why not make that somebody you?