Fool

Easter 4B
Acts 4:8-12 / 1 John 3:1-2 / John 10:11-18

I was sitting in a parish council meeting
this past week and
one of our students rushed in,
pointed at me—
and waved me to come out and talk to her.

What was so important that she
would pull me out of the meeting?

Well, a woman had wandered into the Narthex.

It looked like she was in her 30’s–
Her hair was wet and shiny so I could tell
she had just gotten out of the shower.

She seemed a little disorientated—
a little frazzled.

She had no shoes on—
just those colored socks with some
rubber on the bottom of them
that they give you when you’re
admitted to the hospital.

She wore what looked like surgeon’s scrubs—
Except, on closer inspection,
I could see that these scrubs
were not made out of cloth—
they were made out of paper.

Again, straight from the hospital wardrobe—
Patient’s department—
Not the surgeon’s.

She told me that the night before
someone found her passed out—
they called an ambulance—
And she woke up that morning in the hospital.

She admitted she had passed out
because she had been drinking.

She said they informed her in the hospital
that there wasn’t much
they could do about her liver failure

She was from Arizona—
and she disclosed a real complicated story
on how she ended up in here in Kentucky.

The main reason,
Was some on again off again relationship.

So, after getting her sobered up and
fed and hydrated and cleaned up—
she said they told her at the hospital—
it was time for her to go.

From her perspective,
they had put her out on the streets.

So she wondered out of the hospital
in her paper hospital scrubs and
red hospital socks—
and walked over to our place.

She said she wasn’t very religious.
So I asked Clare—
that was her name—
I asked Clare,
“How did you end up here?

She said,
“I asked for directions,
I asked for directions to
some place Catholic,
because they’ll take care of me.”

“I asked for . . . some place Catholic,
Because they’ll take of me.”

So we took her to the Catholic Action Center

On the way over, she said,
“I’ve hit rock bottom.”

But now, at least she had a place to stay
At least she had a place to sleep—
At least she had something to eat.

That’s a lot of responsibility for us “Catholics”—
But it gets down to the basics doesn’t it!!!

“I asked for directions to
some place Catholic,
because they’ll take care of me.”

Whatever internal voice she heard—
whether it was God’s voice directly—
or God’s voice through her previous interactions with Catholics—
or God’s voice through what she had heard about the Church—
That’s the voice of the Good Shepherd.

“If you need help—go to my Church.”

And that whispering voice that we
hear in our souls when we listen for it—
the voice that says we have a responsibility
to help others because we are Christians—
because we are Catholics”—
that’s the voice of the Good Shepherd.

And that booming voice we hear from
the Gospel with the same message—
that’s the voice of the Good Shepherd.

One of my best friends is a Protestant—
and he sent me a great reflection
this week by Fredrick Buechner.

You may have heard of Buechner—
I mention him every now and again.

He’s an ordained Presbyterian minister—
author of over thirty books—
and an incredible preacher.

His words always move me and challenge me—
And I like to be challenged.

This reflection of Buechner is called, simply—“Fool.”
And in this reflection, Buechner asserts that
“worldly wisdom”—the voice of the world—
is more or less the wisdom that
all of us has been living by
since the Stone Age.

This worldly voice—
this worldly wisdom
is best exemplified by such homely utterances as:

“You’ve got your own life to lead.”

And—”Business is business.”

And—”Charity begins at home.”

And—“Don’t get involved.”
[that’s none of my business]

And—”God helps those who help themselves.”

And—”Safety first.”

We’re all familiar with such “wise” sayings.

And although this worldly wisdom can—
at times—
lead to ruthlessness and indifference—
it is by no means incompatible with niceness.

Buechner points out that we can
primarily be looking out
for old number one—

and still give generously to
the American Cancer Society—
or run for public office—
or have a soft spot in our hearts
for children and animals.

How can we sum up this worldly wisdom?

Buechner says it can be summed up
in the old slogan for better driving:
“Drive carefully—the life you save may be your own.”
But what God says—
what the Gospel says is different

The voice of God says:
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)

The voice of God says:
“The life you save is the life you lose.”

In other words,
the life we clutch—
the life we hoard—
the life we guard—
the life we play safe with—

is—in the end—
a life that is not worth much to anyone—
including ourselves.

The voice of God says—
Godly wisdom says—
That only a life given away
for love’s sake is a life worth living.

And if we base our lives on worldly wisdom—
Then the wisdom of God—
the radicalness of the Gospel—
looks—well—rather foolish.

And to drive home the point—
God shows us a man who gave his
life away to the extent of
dying a national disgrace without a
penny in the bank or
a friend to his name.

In terms of human wisdom—
Jesus was a perfect fool.

And Buechner says,
if we think that we can follow Him without
making something like the
same kind of a fool of ourselves,
we are laboring under not a cross—
but a delusion.
So, Buechner asserts,
“There are two kinds of fools in the world:
damned fools and
“fools for Christ”

Damned fools and “fools for Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:10).

Brothers and Sisters in Christ—
when we hear that voice—
that internal voice in our souls and
that exterior voice in the Gospel—
that says “don’t play it safe” when it comes to love—

-“don’t play it safe” when it comes to giving of ourselves.

that says “only a life given away
for love’s sake is a life worth living”—

that says “be a fool for Christ”—

That’s the voice of the Good Shepherd

And why listen to that voice—
Why listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd?

Because the Good Shepherd lays
down his life for the sheep?

Because the Good Shepherd has only
our interests—
our well-being in mind!!!

Because the Good Shepherd came that we
might have life more abundantly!!!

Because the Good Shepherd has
already defeated all that can ultimately harm us—
evil—
the devil—
even death itself—
so we don’t have to play it safe!!!

We’re either damned fools. . . . or fools for Christ!!!

Holy Spirit 04/21-22/2018

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