Paul the Apostle was right. We are fools for Christ. How else can we make sense of the Gospel, the good news, where everything is upside down?
This is a world where the poor are blessed, where a Samaritan writes a blank check for a wounded Jew. It’s a world where the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to seek the one that is lost.
If that weren’t enough, in today’s gospel Jesus says he’s like a master who returns unexpectedly late at night, then puts on an apron to serve his slaves at the dinner table. Jesus even says he like a thief who’ll break into our lives unexpectedly and the possessions we’ve been hording and protecting won’t matter.
Jesus has turned the expectations of the world — and ours — upside down.
The gospel makes sense only if we remember that out of sheer love, God created us to be with him in the kingdom, and that our lives should be directed to that end. Sadly, we sometimes may forget this. Instead, we may be tempted to let the world get such a grip on us that we have no time or thought for our true destination, the reason for our being. The gospel warns us that our call to judgment will come on each of us of like a thief in the night, in a moment when we least expect it.
That Jesus is coming is certain; that we will one day die is also certain. Only the moment is uncertain. But we are not to be anxious about this. Rather, we are to called to be ready. How? By serving and caring for one other, by walking in faith just like Abel, Abraham and Sarah, like Moses and all those giants of faith who came before us. It’s a faith that guides our footsteps with the certainty of what we hope for: to be with God, a God who will put on his apron, wash our feet, and serve us at his messianic table.
This good news is so wild, so upside down, the only way we can finally prepare for the coming of the Lord is to behave like fools for Christ and to stand on our heads — with feet firmly planted in the kingdom.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.