Following God’s Fool

1 Corinthians 1: 17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Sometimes I feel foolish telling people that I am trying to live a life of penance. I tend not to tell the people I interact with daily. First of all, the Rule of the BSP* is meant to be lived quietly, without fanfare, so we don’t make “announcements” about it. But from time to time it does come up. Almost invariably, the person I tell will get a funny look on his or her face, as if to say, “Why would you want to do that?”

It’s funny, but my answers always seem to come up short. I know in my heart why I want to follow this lifestyle, but there seem to be no words adequate to describe what it means to me to live the message of the cross. Whatever I say sounds like foolishness to the ears, even to mine.

Perhaps that is God’s doing. He does not wish me to talk about it with the “wisdom of human eloquence.” In describing the life of the cross, human words ring flat and dull. Perhaps what He wants is to whisper the living call of the cross himself into the hearts he has chosen, as he did with you and me. What is foolishness to the ears becomes music to the hearts he has prepared.

St. Francis called himself “God’s fool”. I suppose that if I feel foolish living the penitential lifestyle, I can take comfort knowing that I am in the best of company.

*Brothers & Sisters of Penance of St. Francis


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