Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nut Case

Years ago, in a Catholic grade school in New Bedford, MA, a teacher was relating the story of St. Isaac Jogues, the French Jesuit missionary to the Huron in the 1600's. Captured by the Huron's rivals, Jogues was tortured. He survived, and with the help of Dutch Protestants (who had no love for Catholic priests, but couldn't bear to see a European treated that way), Jogues made it back to France. He had to petition the Pope for permission to celebrate Mass with mutilated hands, and with that permission granted, he made his way back across the Atlantic, to serve the Huron people once again.
The teacher had paused to let the martyr's heroism sink in, when a voice came from the back row. "What a nut!"
Today's Gospel is an example of one of those passages that Scripture scholars say fit the "criteria of embarrassment" for being 100%, absolutely, positively historical. In it, Mark tells us that Jesus' relatives came "to take him away," convinced that there was just something "not right" about Mary's boy. Michael Card wrote some wonderful lyrics about this: "It seems I've imagined him, all of my life, as the wisest of all of mankind. But if God's holy Wisdom is foolish to men, he must have seemed out of his mind." Card is, of course, drawing on today's Gospel as well as St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Paul warns us that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." If the lives of the saints are any clue, the closer a person comes to God, the nuttier they seem to the cool and detached gaze of the common-sensical.
Paul tells us that, like St. Isaac Jogues, we have to be willing to seem a bit foollish if we want to benefit from all that Jesus has done.


emeL said...

masterfully written!
and wonderfully connected!
so glad to have the notice to come and look = so worthwhile!!!!
thank you!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

I would say to those who obey God are nuts -- who cares what people think? I care what *God* thinks!

Faith said...

I'd like to hear how the teacher handled the situation.

Sr Anne said...

I'm afraid I don't know how the teacher managed! I heard this story 30 years ago from a sister who had been one of the pupils in that classroom.

Anonymous said...

Sounds exactly like a comment that my son made in reference to the bahavior of his younger cousin. The parents were not pleased.