With Palm Sunday falling on April 1, Holy Week begins this year on April Fools’ Day. Throughout the secular world, the occasion is merely a day to perform tricks and play pranks upon unsuspecting friends.
But for the Christian world, April 1, 2012 is the beginning of one of the most sacred times of the year. Palm Sunday begins the week with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem – yet we know this glorious beginning leads to his suffering and death upon the cross. The cross was seen as a scandal to the Jews and as folly to the Greeks, St. Paul tells us in his epistle to the Corinthians. Even today many in our increasingly secular world consider people of faith as fools and the subject of folly.
For God to take on a human nature and willingly die for the sins of his people is considered foolish in the eyes of the world. The Romans and Jewish leaders thought Jesus a fool to urge people to "love their enemies” and to "turn the other cheek." Throughout history, the followers of Christ have been labeled fools, from the martyrs who preferred death rather than renounce their faith to those who today continue to stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. “We are fools for Christ's sake," said St. Paul. In the words of the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, to be a fool for Christ is the greatest compliment the world can give a person of faith.
"Divine Folly is wiser than the wisdom of man," the Apostles tell us. April Fools' Day ushers in Holy Week, a time of foolishness and folly for many of the men and women of the secular world who live without faith and hope. For them, the cross is foolishness but for the faithful the truth of the cross, the truth of Good Friday and the truth of the Crucifixion is that without the cross there can be no crown. Without Good Friday there can be no Easter Sunday. If the world considers Jesus Christ and his Crucifixion folly and if it sees our faith as foolish, then we have nothing to fear for our destiny and our final home is not this world but the other world of heaven.
We are reminded in the Scriptures that “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” April Fools’ Day begins the week that changed the world. Let us all truly be fools for Christ this Holy Week.