Now one may ask, what does comedy have to do with the church? Truthfully, not much. The mission of the Church and our salvation is not a thing to be mocked at or laugh about. Yet at the same time we can learn something from the attitudes present in and towards such “fools”. The Scriptures and the witness of the saints, especially within the Slavic tradition, describe different types of foolishness. In Scripture we read of the rich man who seek only his own comfort, whom God calls a “fool” (Luke 12:20). We also read of the “foolish virgins” (Matthew 25:1-13) and of the “foolish disciples” on the road to Emmaus, who are “slow to believe” (Luke 24:25) and understand the things that have happened to Jesus. These moments of fools and foolishness concern the denial of God and His work of salvation. The rich man serves only himself and not others by hoarding his goods; the “foolish” virgins do not prepare for God’s plan and lose the light and their way; and the disciples have not kept faith with the Christ and the Father but instead are scattered and afraid, ignorant of Scripture’s message and promise.
Yet, in Scripture we also see those that are foolish in a different way. In his first letter to the Corinthians St. Paul calls those who labor for God as “fools for Christ’s sake” (1 Cor. 4:10). We also read of those who mocked the Apostles at Pentecost saying, “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13), thus calling them drunks and fools. In both of these cases, in contrast to the other fools mentioned above, the Apostles speak knowing God’s plan and message for mankind. That message is inherent in the sacrifice of Jesus. It is a message that can only be understood by those who reject the foolish “wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1:20) and turn instead to the cross that appears to be “foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18) itself. That is why Paul also says that the cross is “to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness…because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:23-25).
This rejection of the world can be seen most clearly in the monastic life and especially in the saints, mainly from the Slavic tradition, who are called the “fools for Christ”. The men and women that fall into the latter expression of the ascetic life presented themselves before their fellow men in order to be mocked. They played the part of fools to show the hypocrisy of the mockers. Through the sacrifice of their “dignity” they even corrected the actions and misdeeds of Tsars.
So now we come back to “timing is everything”. In the Church’s case, though, it’s not the timing of the message, but the timing of our foolishness. Do we time our lives to the beat of the world or to the beat of God? If we read the material, Scripture; and we practice, have a prayer life, and live the life of the Church; and we make the time and effort to be “for Christ’s sake” then we are joyful fools, like St. Laurence who said, while cooked over a fire, “Turn me over. I am done on this side.” If we do not do these things then the world will laugh in scorn as we stumble through life and God will not laugh at all and we will just be fools.