Psalm 14, 1-6
Something to read
Fools say in their hearts, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD?
There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool," writes William Shakespeare in 'As You Like It'. Such a quote can bring to us a wry smile, that realisation that no matter how wise we may think we are, no matter how much we have learned, we are still fools.
Yet as fools we participate in the divine wisdom. We do not always know how we play in that magisterial drama, but we know that we are in it, our hands acting as God's hands, eyes as God's eyes, ears as God's ears, and minds as God's minds.
The difference is that the wise fool and the fool of which the psalmist writes knows that this activity is intimately connected with God.
Not knowing exactly how we are acting as wise fools does not free us from our obligations to Christian action. Much has been done in the name of Christianity which has caused harm.
As wise fools we do not do anything in the name of Christianity, but rather because like St. Paul, we can do no other. We live within and as a distinct part of the body of Christ.
We know with humility that we are not more important that any other part, but equally important to other parts. Like all parts, this is the source of our wisdom: that we must carry out the function ordained upon us as part of the priesthood of all believers.
Something to do
In the last verse of our reading, we are warned against mocking the plans of the poor. Reflect on what "poor" means to the psalmist. Identify something that the "poor", in your definition, are doing. Now ask yourself: is it really mockable?
Something to pray
God, I come before you today as a fool.
When I think I am wise, you show me why I'm not.
When I think I get it, you show me that I don't.
But these are merely paths to greater wisdom.
My greatest folly is my own inaction,
When the poor of your world are being hurt
I mock them by doing nothing to help them.
God, make me a wise fool,
Whose action makes a mockery of the fools
whose inaction denies your body in the world.
Ryan Sirmons is a pastor of The United Church of Christ Annapolis who trained at Westminster College, Cambridge.