“He doesn’t suffer fools gladly”.
I recall several years ago hearing the comedian Eddie Izzard pick apart this phrase during one of his many zany comedy routines. “Who on earth does suffer fools gladly?” was his point, with him probably suggesting such as the following: “What – you’ve rubbed jam in your hair and put scorpions down your trousers? Well don’t just stand there, come in you fool and have a cup of tea; I have shampoo aplenty and ointment to rub wherever it stings”.
What is this nonsense you may well be thinking; why is the Vicar acting the fool to begin his words to us this month in the magazine? Well simply because this year the most important day in the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday itself, falls on the 1st day of April – Easter Sunday falls on the day that is popularly kept as and called April Fool’s Day. And as it turns out, the Vicar was actually very close to being an April Fool when it came to the date of his birth, arriving a matter of hours before what some may see as being a rather apt time in the calendar for such as me to be born (my eldest daughter would certainly agree). However, for me the fact that we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on April Fool’s Day is even more apt than my nearly being an April Fool.
So why? Well for a couple of reasons. The first of these is that St Paul himself in his first letter to the Church in Corinth describes the Easter events in similar terms. As he says in this letter, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God”. At the time in Corinth and indeed probably still today, people of great wisdom were scratching their heads at the idea that anything other than their own knowledge and actions could deliver them happy lives. And more so, for such people the idea of trusting in God, trusting in Jesus and his death on the cross and his resurrection to make them right with God, to see their lives present and eternal be made better beyond their wildest dreams, seemed bizarre and yes, plain foolish.
But more than this for me, as we come to the end of Lent, a season when we have maybe faced and recognised our own foolishness, our own falling short of a good life lived, it is even more apt that we remember that the Easter events that we recall, the death and resurrection of Jesus, were done for people such as us who have perhaps been foolish with the gifts that God has given to us in the world. This is in fact a key and crucial feature of these events for me; that foolish or otherwise the cross of Christ and His majestic resurrection were things that were done for us, all of us. And more than this done so that whatever foolish things I may have done in my life (and goodness knows there are a great many) I am still made right with God through these actions of Christ.
Quite simply, the wonderful news is that Jesus Christ definitely suffers fools and gladly – indeed he suffered and died for fools, rising again to ensure that all of these, myself included do not need to rue and regret our foolishness – those foolish ways that we sing of in the wonderful Lenten hymn, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. And why? Because Jesus has seen to it that there truly is no fool’s day anymore above and beyond those tricks we may play on each other on the 1st of April each year: Because Jesus through his actions has fooled death and everything that keeps me apart from God. Andy