Submitted by Fr. Peter Ullrich, St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Tarkio
Many will say that the Christian life should lead to a healthy and appropriate sense of joy. Beginning with St. Paul and St. Augustine and Pope Francis in our own time – that seems to be true. See the words of St. Paul to the Philippians (4:4-7), the opening lines of the Confessions of St. Augustine, and the words of Pope Francis from the encyclical “Joy of the Gospel.”
St. Paul writes to the Philippians – Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) in his Confessions begins: “You have made us, O Lord, for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” This is to say that our human longing for happiness and joy are really satisfied only in the Lord. Unless we recognize that true happiness is only found in God, we too will be striving after the wind.
Pope Francis, in the encyclical “Joy of the Gospel,” wrote: “The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
Finally, some years ago I read an article from an Italian magazine where the author firmly believed that humor, hilarity are keys to the survival of the human species. He wrote that: “Studies show “adults laugh on average 18 times a day, while children laugh 10 times as much. Behavioral biologists maintain that hilarity contributes to the survival of our species; otherwise we would have stopped laughing millennia ago.”
On the spiritual side, this same writer said that a healthy and mature sense of humor consists in a person’s ability to see the absurdity present in his or her own life and to be somewhat detached from it. The ability to laugh at oneself, he said, coincides with the Christian virtue of humility and with an awareness that, while the religious life involves striving to do God’s will, God surpasses all human understanding.
With humility as the basis of one’s sense of humor, he said, one can avoid the pitfall of being trivial, silly or ignorant of the real pain existing in the world and the real sacrifice made by Christ to bring salvation. Let’s take a moment to consider our blessings and realize the source of all blessing, and then let ourselves rejoice, even delight in the goodness of God.