“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and learned you have revealed them to little ones.”
I think we can say that the world is divided between two types of people: the irrational and the rational. To be fully human means to allow yourself to fall into the category of the irrational. Christians are most definitely the irrational type. That is, on the side of Jesus, who was irrational. Did you ever wonder why so many people, thousands at a time, would come to here our Lord speak? Was it because he told them something they already knew? No. Was it because he told them what they wanted to hear? No. It’s because he spoke like no other. He spoke irrationally and with authority. He told them what they never dreamed of hearing – it made no sense - and they loved it. It made them smile, sing and dance! He told them to love their enemies; to make friends with sinners! Very irrational! The Pharisees and Scribes did not speak with authority. In fact, what they said was boring and very rational. They could not accept Christ’s teaching. They became hard and hatred filled their hearts.
To be irrational does not mean to be irresponsible. To be irrational means to be free! It means to not allow a reason to get in the way of life! Life is more than reasons. Faith and reason go together like a wing and a prayer. To be rational means to fly with one wing and to live a very narrow existence. It leaves no room for mystery, dreams, poetry and art. How restricted! How inhumane! I won’t even say it’s a narrow life, for what kind of life is there if you cannot go beyond your instinct and flesh. This is the Animal Kingdom!
Recently, flying back from vacation, I did my normal routine before take-off. I did the sign of the cross and I took out my rosary. A gentleman sitting next to me looked over, saw my rosary and very rationally said, “Do you really thing that rosary will save us?” I calmly looked over to him and replied, “I’m not sure about ‘us’, but I am sure it will save me! If the plane were falling from the sky, I would rather prefer to sit next to a priest and get his final blessing than sit next to the pilot and get his final explanation. The experts tell us that we can accept death more easily when we know why. Very rational. Instead, the irrational prefer to know why they ever lived. Rational people always look for explanations. Irrational people always look for meaning.
The experts tell us that children need to “love themselves.” Again, very rational. But parents (who are very irrational) do not want little Jimmy to grow up loving himself. They want peace! They want little Jimmy to love his little sister more than himself; to think not so much of himself but of others and to think of them first. In fact, we want little Jimmy to love his neighbor more than himself. Very irrational! But who wouldn’t want a neighbor like Jimmy? It is very rational to love yourself. It is absolutely irrational to love someone more than yourself, and we would all be very happy to know someone like that.
It is very rational to smile at something that makes you happy. Yet, the Saints, the most irrational people on the face of the earth, (because they love more than is rational, give more than is reasonable and forgive much more than is acceptable - seven times seventy times – very irrational!) were able to smile as they were being fed to the lions, hung, quartered and drawn, crucified upside down, and had their hearts pulled out by very rational and deliberate people. The rational thought that fear and torture would destroy their enemies. Instead, the irrational Saints converted their enemies and conquered evil empires ranging from the oldest and longest empire (the Romans) to the latest and gravest (the Nazis). The Nazis were very rational, almost mathematical and mechanical, in their scientific methods of extermination.
Way to often I have heard on the lips of children that “we are just animals.” I cannot blame them for having lost their irrationality and innocence. After all, six hours a week of biology can distort the mind and make one think very rationally and incorrectly. When our children learn about the reproductive system of apes and kangaroos are mixed in with the reproductive system of human beings, of course they are going to think they are just like animals! And of course they will start acting like animals: finding a mate and hooking up. Animals are very efficient, and every day we are becoming more and more efficient and less and less human. We don’t want to live in the Animal Kingdom, we want to hold on to the irrational concepts of holiness, sacredness and dignity, were rape, abuse and incest are an abomination. We, the irrational are not interested in finding a mate or a partner. We want a spouse, a lover, a dancer a singer and a poet, who will love us unconditionally, faithfully and honorably till death do us part. Very irrational! Very human! You won’t find that in any science book. But you will find it in real life!
Science is very rational. There is no room for the irrational interests of humans, like poetry, novels, music and dance. We love to dance and to sing because it makes no sense! A tree will always be just a tree in a science book. But a tree is more than a tree in a poetry book. It is a “mysterious being with a thousand tongues, a hundred arms and one gigantic leg” (G.K. Chesterton). A human being is just flesh and bones in our science books. But in music, he is a firework! Very irrational, and yet, a firework describes the human person better than any sentence or diagram in Grey’s Anatomy!
A Christian is called to imitate the Lord, the most irrational God ever, who always forgives and always forgets. A Christian is called to live by three irrational virtues: faith, hope and love. To believe in what cannot be proven; to hope in the impossible; to love what is unlovable. He lives by faith and reason, like a prayer and a wing. He smiles like a Saint, soars on eagle’s wings and seeks first the Kingdom of God.
I will never forget how a young girl around seven years old came up to me after Mass and said, “Father, I have a joke for you.” I looked at her, smiled and said, “Go ahead, tell me your joke.” She said, “Why can’t dinosaurs talk?” I said to her, “I don’t know. Why can’t dinosaurs talk?” Her demeanor changed, she looked serious and said, “Because their dead!” A very rational little girl. Thank God for Walt Disney, a very irrational guy, a Christian too.