Feast of St. James the Apostle
Seeking the Foolishness of God
Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15; Psalms 126:1bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6; Matthew 20:20-28
What is it you want? Perhaps this question, which Jesus asks of the mother of James and John, might start us off on our meditation today. As we come before the Lord in this Eucharistic celebration, as we continue to seek God throughout the course of this day, throughout the course of our lives, what is it we want?
The images presented in the readings today may somehow resonate with what we want. To sit gloriously by the Lord’s side as he triumphantly rules his kingdom – to rule without being ruled over by someone else… To reap a bountiful harvest while my mouth is filled with a joyful song… To hold and savour a priceless treasure all for myself… At some level of consciousness, these are the things for which I dream. These are the things I would probably ask God for, if I trusted enough in God’s love for me.
And, indeed, these are the presents that God wishes to give to us: kingly glory, bountiful harvest, priceless treasure… But as important as these presents are, isn’t it just as important to consider the process by which God wishes to bestow them upon us? The process I often have in mind is that of escape, escape from all the difficulties that come with a normal human life, escape from pain and suffering and death. In contrast, through Jesus, God invites us to undertake a process of loving embrace. The glorious kingdom comes to those who share in the cup of the Lord’s suffering and death… The bountiful harvest is reaped by those who first sow in tears… The priceless treasure is held in earthen vessels…
There is perhaps a certain disappointment and disillusionment that befalls those who come to this realization, those who come to see the necessary process by which the presents are bestowed. Why would anyone want to do something so foolish? And yet, isn’t it precisely by embracing these difficult feelings that one encounters the One who embraces us? Isn’t it in drinking the cup, in sowing in tears, in being an earthen vessel, that one allows oneself to be embraced by the One who humbled himself for our sakes? Isn’t it by becoming foolish and weak that one gains the true wisdom and strength of God?
I’m reminded of the following words from a song by Michael Card:
When we in our foolishness thought we were wise.
He played the fool and he opened our eyes.
When we in our weakness believed we were strong.
He became helpless to show we were wrong.
And so we follow God’s own fool…
What is it that you want today?