Uh oh, I celebrated Halloween and my father’s birthday a day early. My brother and I both acknowledge our father’s birthday as being October 31, 1895.
But yesterday I was a day early in my annual visit to my friends in Dr. Craig’s office. So, today, in spite of the rain I paid a return visit to take their picture in costume.
I remember another interaction between my father and me. He was in the garden doing early spring work. I was a first or second grader, I think. I had already learned about April Fool’s Day, but not at home. I innocently ran to my father and played an April fool’s joke on him. I had called my father a fool!
My father looked at me kindly, but sternly. He told me to go into the house and read Matthew 5:22. He knew the precise location of the bible verse. I read there that for me to call someone a fool was to put my self in danger of hell fire. That was scary.
I’ve learned that in that context fool means someone who is so morally corrupt that he can no longer tell right from wrong or good from evil, someone who has lost the ability to repent, one for whom there is no hope of change. Today, not for fear of hell, I believe in the possibility of change for everyone. Anyone, fundamentalist of any sort, politician of any party, or a person of any sexual orientation can change for good or ill. I even give myself the hope of change and have grown thereby.
Now I call myself the Old Fool. Many of my friends have told me of their wish that I would not call myself a fool. I’ m sure they are thinking of Jesus’ warning not to call any one a fool. But I am thinking of the Apostle Paul’s words about himself and his associates in 1 Corinthians 4 as “fools for Christ’s sake.” In researching this I was surprised to learn that there is a list of saints honored as Fools for Christ by the Orthodox Church.
I do not identify myself with the people on that list. Some seemed to be eccentric. I only wish to be like Jesus who was the most sensible of human beings. So sensible, that his family feared for his sanity.