Thoughts of a Catholic convert

My Photo
Location: United States

Friday, November 08, 2013

"Did Christ laugh?"

- The Gospel of John's happy Jesus

There's a post at dotCommonweal about the pope and his clown nose :) - some of the comments register disapproval of the pope's action and it made me wonder why religion is supposed to be so grim. There was a past article at The Tablet, Did Christ laugh? about this ...

[...] Lack of humour in the New Testament led to a famous debate among scholastic theologians: did Christ laugh during his earthly life? This is one of the themes of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. The plot of his medieval detective story centres on the concealment, in a monastic library, of the second book of Aristotle's Poetics, devoted to comedy, by the reactionary monk Jorge de Burgos, who claims that laughter is diabolical and should be banned from the monastery. This is the tradition of the desert Fathers and founders of monasticism, Anthony, Pachomius, Augustine and Benedict, who all condemned laughter as the enemy of the spiritual life. Saint Chrysostom held that we are not on earth to laugh but to weep over our sins and Saint Benedict, in his monastic rule, condemned at all times and everywhere buffoonery and idle talk which provoke laughter ...

But one only has to observe Jesus' behaviour and listen to his parables to be struck by his sense of humour. He shared meals with outcasts and sinners, announced that prostitutes would precede the pious into heaven and his first miracle was to change water into wine. He reversed the accepted hierarchy of values with irony and humour. The early Church's attempt to banish laughter from Christian life was doomed to failure. The mystery plays soon had their farcical interludes and the spirit of carnival vied with the sobriety of church devotions. Thanks to Boccacio, Chaucer and Villon, writers of the medieval fables and especially Rabelais and the great Renaissance authors, Erasmus and More, humour came into its own. Even the monastic rules became more relaxed. Saint Francis of Assisi cautioned his brothers not to appear sad and gloomy, like hypocrites, but joyful in the Lord, gay and friendly as is fitting. Monasteries today are noted for their good humour, and one French abbot is even on record as saying: Without humour, monastic life is impossible ....

Humour is the first step to humility.


Anonymous Henry said...

I don't see any reason to think Christ wouldn't laugh? He cried at the tomb of His friend Lazarus so why wouldn't he have laughed at, say, the Wedding at Cana?

One time, when I was teaching adults, I completely scandalized them by saying that Christ probaly urinated in the morning immediately upon awaking, as any other human being would. Wow, did I get an earful and learn a lot about what people think about the humanity of Christ. Plus, they complained to the pastor!

12:25 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Heh :) Before I became a Catholic, I thought of Jesus as being hardly human at all - I didn't think he even suffered on the cross. I guess that "impassible" God thing is hard to overcome.

2:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home