Fools for Christ


The Star Wars universe of movies and television series are full of themes that seem to pull from Christianity. One such theme was introduced early in Star Wars Episode 5, The Empire Strikes Back. A young Luke Skywalker, nearly frozen and injured, has a vision of his first mentor Obi Wan Kenobe, summoning Luke to the Degobah system where he was to be trained by a great Jedi Master. Upon reaching the swampy surface of the planet, he finds a small green local, an irritating runt that rummages through Luke's items, throwing equipment around, stealing food, and drawing negative attention to Luke's droid who gave the contemptuous green being a shock after it wouldn't let go of some food item it took. Luke, impatiently seeking a great Jedi Master, dismisses the tiny green guy until he realizes that the little fella is the great Jedi Master Yoda. Yoda played the fool in order to gage Luke's acuity for the challenges that lay ahead. Luke dismissed Yoda based on how he acted, underestimating the power of the "force" based on perceived physical and mental inferiority. The analogy to impatient Jews waiting for a Messiah to come in militant glory and drive the Romans from their native land never considered that their Savior would come as the son of a carpenter from Nazareth riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.


Today we celebrate the lives of St. Symeon and his childhood friend John, who took different routes to sainthood. While both committed their lives to monastic life, John lived most of his life alone in the wilderness while Symeon, after 29 years of monastic life in the wilderness, went to live among the people. Symeon chose a unique path to serving, literally "playing the fool," disguising himself as a village idiot and leading many to dismiss him as crazy:

"Simeon entered the gate of Emesa (after spending many years in the desert) dragging a dead dog. Schoolchildren saw him and shouted 'Hey, a crazy abba...'. The next day, a Sunday, he entered the church, extinguished the lights and threw nuts at women. On the way out of the church, Simeon overturned 'the tables of the pastry chefs. Such playing the fool made him subject to insults, abuse and beatings, which Simeon endured with patience. In spite of his seemingly strange behaviour, Simeon the Holy Fool healed many possessed people by his prayer, fed the hungry, preached the Gospel, and helped needy citizens of the town. Many of Simeon's saintly deeds were done secretly."

Reportedly born in Edessa, Simeon lived there, unmarried, with his old mother. At the age of 20 years Simeon took monastic vows in the monastery of Abba Gerasimus in Syria, along with his friend and fellow ascetic John from Edessa. After that Simeon and John spent about 29 years in the desert near the Dead Sea practicing asceticism and spiritual exercises. (Simeon the Holy Fool - Wikipedia)


Symeon, feeling he was only benefitting himself by staying in the wilderness, he told John that "with the power of God I’m off to bamboozle people.”