Foolish Wisdom

Today is April 1st the traditional day for pranks and jokes ending with the classic: “April’s Fool.” The exact history of the celebration is shrouded in speculation and mystery, but historians have their “best guess.” Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar, as in the Hindu calendar, the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1.

People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Today’s first reading is from Wisdom. It is practical advice to the righteous person about the pitfalls and problems that lay in wait along the path of righteousness. The basic gist is that the example you set in the world will not always be appreciated. Some will say: “He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us. Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways.” (Wisdom 2:13-15)

The advice continues to describe the consequences of the walk in righteousness and the reaction of some people, but concludes: “These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.” (Wisdom 2:21-22)

On this day, perhaps “April Fool” is ironically appropriate, but it is no joke.

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