I hope I make a fool of myself

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Easter Sunday this year is on April 1. No foolin’!

And that leads into this little story:

An atheist was quite angry over the Easter and the Passover holidays. He contacted the local ACLU about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by all the holidays afforded to Christians and Jews, while atheists had none.

The ACLU jumped on the opportunity to defend the downtrodden and assigned its sharpest attorney to the case. It was brought up before a learned judge who, after listening to the passionate presentation by the ACLU representative, promptly banged his gavel and said, “Case dismissed!”

The ACLU lawyer was apoplectic and stood up to object to the ruling.

“Your Honor,” he said, “how can you dismiss this case? Surely, the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. And what about the Jews? In addition to Passover, they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. Yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!”

The judge leaned back in his chair and simply said, “Obviously, your client is too confused to know about or, for that matter, even celebrate the atheists’ holiday.”

The attorney replied, “We are aware of no such holiday for atheists. Just when might that be?”

The judge smiled and said, “Well, it comes every year at the same time: April 1!”

Well, that judge is half right. Indeed, people who deny the existence of God are branded as fools in the Book of Psalms: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (14:1; 53:1).

On the other hand, believers in God are also seen as fools in the eyes of the world because of the style of life they choose to live. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote: “We are fools on Christ’s account. . . . When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. . . . Therefore, I urge you be imitators of me” (4: 10a, 12-b13a, 16).

It seems providential that this Easter Sunday is also April Fools’ Day. It’s a reminder that we, like St. Paul, are called to be fools on Christ’s account. We Christians can be a powerful witness in the world by being fools: daring to be hopeful in the midst of the despair around us; choosing to be joyful instead of giving in to the world’s pessimism; and believing in life after death when so many succumb to accepting that this short life on earth is all that there is.

To celebrate this Easter season and beyond, I’ve decided — and hope you will, too — to take up a challenge issued by Dmitry Golubnichy in his book “Can You Be Happy for 100 Days in a Row?” The author had seemingly everything that should make a person happy, yet he was not satisfied. So, he decided to do something small and simple that made him happy each day for 100 days and then post it online.

After just a few days, others wanted to join in the fun and now there are some eight million people worldwide participating in the #100HappyDays challenge.

Golubnichy discovered that happiness is an active choice; it lies in small things; it’s most real when it’s shared with others; and to achieve happiness, it helps to appreciate and accept uncertainty.

What makes a person happy? Well, here are some of his suggestions: Wander in an art gallery, buy a co-worker coffee, climb into fresh sheets, belt out a song, cancel a meeting and get lost in a book.

In short, a person is only limited by his or her imagination.

Can you be happy for 100 days in a row? What do you have to lose? Easter is a time of hope, and joy is its byproduct.

These words from an anonymous source say it well: “Hope is not the closing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk or the failure. It is a trust that if I fail now, I shall not fail forever; and if I am hurt, I shall be healed. It is a trust that life is good, and love is powerful.”

Wow, who can actually believe such words? Only us fools, thank God!

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