Saturday, May 6, 2017

St Basil makes a joke

St Basil makes with the jokes today in A Year with the Church Fathers.

That's something you often see with the saints. Most of them had a great sense of humor. St Lawrence, for instance, was burned alive on a giant grill as a martyr. After he had suffered for a time, he quipped to his tormentors "I'm done on this side. Turn me over." That's why he's the patron saint of comedians.

Today, Basil jokes about how his sermon has gone longer than he intended... but it's doing his congregation a favor, because he's preventing them from going off and sinning by keeping them busy for a few minutes longer. And he does make a good point... keeping ourselves busy DOES keep us out of trouble. Idle hands, devil's workshop and all that. It's interesting to note that Basil lived around 370 AD... and he reads like he's writing today. He talks about how many in his congregation are going to run off and play dice. And he quotes Psalm 37:4, which many friends I know today use regularly. It's kind of cool that this saint from the 4th century is writing in such a way that we can identify with him and his thinking today. (That's St Basil in the pic above.)

However, I would posit that there is a third option. St Basil says that his folks either A) sit in church a while longer and listen to his sermon, or B) go off and start sinning. I would ask him to consider option C) wrapping up his witty and enjoyable sermon, and letting his congregation leave, not to sin, but to carry the flame of Jesus's love out into the world.

After all, that's the point of going to church (among others), right? To get our spiritual banks replenished... our batteries recharged... so that we can then go out into the world and be salt and light to those who need Him? To let His love overflow our hearts and pour into the hearts of those who, for whatever reason, aren't making a habit of coming and getting filled each week?

Let's prove St Basil wrong (I'm sure he won't mind) and instead of running off and sinning, let's run off and love people. Let's learn to ask ourselves "What is the demand of love in this situation?" in every circumstance we face today, and then do what love demands.

God, thanks for teaching us through the humor of St Basil. Please help us prove him wrong.