We say that someone has a sense of humor when he can see through something. Take for example if I ask if you heard about the restaurant on the moon that has great food. (Pause) ….but no atmosphere? Or if I ask you what the snail said who hitched a ride on a turtle? He said, “WEEEEE!” If you are older you would get the humor behind the questions. However if you were of a kindergarten age you may not get the punch lines to these two jokes.
So a sense of humor, being able to see through things, seeing the bigger picture, depends on our experience and maturity about life. Likewise God is humor and his creation. When we can see through creation we will see God. Jesus said that he who sees Him sees the God the Father.
Undoubtedly Jesus had a good sense of playful humor. He changed water into wine and I might say top end wine because the steward who tasted the water turned to wine comments that it was the very best. Jesus had many ways he could have paid the temple tax but humorously he tells Peter to find a fish in the water and pull a coin from its mouth to pay the tax. A Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter and Jesus goes through a verbal sparring saying that the choicest of food are for the chosen people, the Jews. She however sees through Jesus’s mission and says, “Yes Lord but even the dogs can eat the crumbs from the table that fall to the ground.”
In the parable of the “Shrewd Steward” (Luke 16:1-13) I suggest that Jesus was telling a Middle Eastern cultural joke to illustrate how silly we are. The steward was going to be fired for incompetence so he calls in his master’s debtors and negotiates deals with them that reduce their liabilities with his master. The servant is hoping to spare himself from unemployment and likely black mail his master’s debtors if they do not give him a path to continue working perhaps among them after he is let go by the master.
However the punch line is a shocker. The master returns and sees the industry of the shrewd steward and rather than throwing him into jail business corruption he praises him. Jesus then goes on to reveal why this if a funny story about us, is that if we would spend as much time and energy preserving our temporal goods and work, “unrighteous manna”, as the steward did how much more would our award be if we focused our attention on God.
In another parable about the owner of land who hoards his goods with larger barns, Jesus tells us that he is a fool indeed. In a sense the joke is on the hoarder. The bottom line is that we take nothing with us when we die, except our character. So we must ask ourselves are we striving to be people of character or being characters ourselves?
“Fun communicates the joy of creation itself as well as the Christian life. It is the lightness of heart that comes from a relationship with God. The heart of following Christ is not burden and responsibility but life and joy. Jesus said that he came that we might have life and have it to the full. If we do not have joy and fun in our faith it could be a sign of spiritual immaturity.” (Fr. Michael White-Rebuild Tools)
Spiritual maturity increases as we are able to see through things for what they are. Jesus wanted us to see a merciful loving God through Him. What does this God want for us but only our happiness? A mature faith will discover that being with God will truly make us happy. While an immature faith of avoidance and indifference of God will not.
Mature Christian fun means that, we don’t take ourselves seriously, but we take God very seriously. At one church the pastor said, “Where there is no fun, there is soon no one. Fun helps people relax and opens them up to the message of the Gospel. Fun encourages people to know the humanness of that message and that our relationship with God does not mean being serious all the time. God created a sense of humor; laughter was his idea.
St. Paul gives us an example of what mature Christian fun means as he reflects with a sense of humor upon himself. He says in 2 Corinthian 11:24-26-
…24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;…
Yet he tells the Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again rejoice!”
How can Paul rejoice and be of good heart? The answer is that he loved Jesus more than his life. Paul says that unless we have love first, all that we do for God is to no avail. 1 Corinthians 13:3-4
The Gospel if filled with paradoxes. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. We must lose our lives to find them. To gain the world you must lay it aside. But when we apply a sense of humor, that is seeing through what is being said we will get the ultimate punch line.
Whenever we want to make a change in our lives for the better we must find something we love more than the old behavior. When we do there is a quiet sense of comfort, joy and happiness.
God is love and took a sad story of Adam Eve’s response of “No” through Mary’s “Yes” turned a story of death into a glad story of life. How?
Just suppose you attended a symphony and during an opus an oboe musician played a wrong note. The conductor could stop the symphony and start all over again. He could continue the symphony as nothing happened. However in this example God did something entirely different. He took the wrong note and from that point made that note the beginning of an entirely new work of musical genius. This is the Easter symphony story.
Be of joy and laughter. Remember the shortest distance between two people is a genuine smile with a countenance of joy.