Joy of being crazy
By Fr Peter Ly Trong Danh C.Ss.R.
“You’re not a crazy boy are you?” It was my mother speaking. It was her first response to my telling her that I wanted to be a Redemptorist. I guess it was her way of saying, “You might be crazy, son, but I’m not.” She told me what she thought and encouraged me to go and think about it for a month.
I took my mother at her word and considered my future and the vocation I was negotiating. I thought to myself, “If Mum is challenging me this way, in a sense God is challenging me through her.” I decided to spend time thinking things over and talking with God about it.”
Some months later I told my mother I felt that God was still calling me to be a missionary. She surprised me by saying she was happy with my decision. I can see now it was not only I who was thinking things over and praying about it. Thank God for wise and faithful parents!
I could never have guessed how prophetic my mother’s initial response would be. She was only the first of many people who have suggested I was crazy for wanting to be a missionary. My friends have jumped all over me, “That’s crazy, man!” My relatives have rolled their eyes and looked at each other and thought aloud, “Are you crazy, Peter?”
I remember one day, not long after I renewed my vows as a Redemptorist, I was visiting a man who was living with HIV/AIDS. He was being cared for in the Catholic Centre near where I lived. He used to be a robber and a murderer before falling ill. Could he have been trying to keep some distance between us? Could he have been testing out whether I was for real? I don’t know. But he said to me, “You would have to be crazy to be helping street kids and people like me”. I didn’t say anything, mostly because I did not know what to say. Then, after a pause, tears began to roll down the man’s face. And with not a little wry humour he said “I thank God for making you crazy, otherwise you would not be here with me”.
All that happened in Vietnam. Now that I have transferred to the Australian Redemptorists, I find myself in my 30’s dealing with a new language, a new culture, a new expression of faith and religious life. I think to myself, “Yes, you are crazy, Peter!”
St. Paul referred to it as “the foolishness of the cross of Christ”. I believe that if I will be crazy about anything, the cross of Christ is a pretty good choice. Through the craziness of Good Friday Christ came to the glory of Easter Sunday. That was the day he started gathering together a crazy humanity. That day is also today. It makes me smile to be part of it.