Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lighten Up!

Today is the feast day of St. Philip of Neri who was known for his ability to be "cheerful and laugh from the depths of his burning love for the crucified Christ."  Sometimes Catholics are given a bad rep about not being able to have a sense of humor.   Excuse me if I find it hard to laugh at our world's disturbing sense of humor.  It certainly doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor at all!  Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm a stoic or unnecessarily prude.  Being a Christian means I can find joy in all the ways I encounter Christ.   When I think about how much God loves me and you, that joy makes me profoundly happy and I may even let out an occasional joke or two ;) 

A sense of humor can tell a lot about a person. A good sense of humor shows a healthy self respect.  A person who can laugh at themselves shows that they are not too proud and do not have a poor self esteem.   Sometimes poking fun of each other in a light hearted way is the best way to show camaraderie.  Also a good sense of humor shows a positive outlook life.  When life gives us lemons, a joyful person will not be shaken to the core, but sees things in the right perspective with right proportion.  Keeping a good sense of humor is sometimes the best medicine in times of sadness.

In the same way, a poor sense of humor can reveal vices, unhealthy attitudes and a poor self image.   It revealed Sarah's lack of faith in Genesis 18, and got her in trouble with the Lord! There are many jokes I simply do not think are funny and it's not because I don't have a sense of humor.  For example, jokes that are demeaning to men or women or the sacrament of marriage never make me laugh.  Also jokes that show a distorted view of sex only make me frown. Maybe for this reason, I am very choosy when it comes to my friends and who I hang out with.  I find it pretty easy to tell who is going to make me feel uncomfortable in a social setting and with whom I will be able to enjoy myself and share a few laughs.

A life with Christ is one of full of joy.  They will know we are Christians by our love and our joy.  Elizabeth's baby, St. John the Baptist, knew Christ's joy even before he was born! "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." Luke 1:44.  We can experience Christ every time we see our neighbor, appreciate nature, pray and especially when we receive the Eucharist. Just like St. Philip of Neri, all this joy can't help but make a person laugh from the depths of a love for Christ.  

1 comment:

Karen Simon said...

I have a framed quote by St. Phillip Neri that hangs right by my back door so I can read it every morning before I leave for work. It says, "Let me get through today and I shall not fear tomorrow".