Sometimes Jesus is portrayed in books and films and in most drawings and paintings as a very serious and gloomy person -not really much fun to be around. I think that is a pity. True, there are not many references to his sense of humour in the gospels but from what we can gather from the Gospels about his social life, his stories and his ability to be at ease with children, he must have had a good sense of humour. I think he would have laughed a lot and enjoyed the fun. He went to parties and enjoyed the banter. He hardly sat there praying all the time! He would have had a good laugh with his friends.
Laughter often helps to defuse difficult or tense situations. We are told that Archbishop Tutu used his sense of humour during the bad times in South Africa in order to diffuse tension at meetings. Of course, attempts at humour can sometimes be misunderstood. People will sometimes be accused of being flippant. However, without humour and laughter life would be dull and the world would be a very, very dull place.
Some of the funniest people I have known were also serious people – deep thinkers who were totally committed to the God of Peace and Justice. They were integrated people. It shows me that people close to God are able to be light-hearted and funny much of the time in the company of other people. They are always serious about their objectives and entirely focussed on their Christian mission of bringing about justice and peace in this broken world.
Some of the people that I admire most are those who have been through a lot of trials and sufferings and yet can share a laugh and a joke. I think Jesus was like that. It helps to appreciate his parables, if we picture Jesus with a smile on his face as he told some of his succinct stories. He used images in his stories like planks and specks and camels to make it easier to understand the message he wanted to convey about judging people or about greed. I’m sure he had many other humorous stories to tell his friends that are not recorded in the Gospels.
A wonderful man I know loves to crack jokes even in the middle of a serious conversation: “Did you hear about the old judge who asked the lawyer what way his client was pleading: “Guilty but insane,” said the lawyer. ”I know he is guilty,” said the learned judge, “but what’s he doing in Spain?”
The jovial side of Jesus is only one of the many aspects of his personality (note also his sensitivity, his wisdom, his assertiveness, his serenity, his discipline, his compassion, his passion) but it is one that is often overlooked. It is important to see the real Jesus -the human Jesus. He did not go around with a gloomy face. We should learn from him. As the good –humoured Pope Francis remarked: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral.” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” Nov. 24, 2013).
Jesus who was put to death because he was an uppity Jew who wanted to change the world and is now among us urging us to change the world-to stop the destruction of the planet and the oppression of the poor. Jesus wants us to enjoy life while at the same time working to bring about justice and to make this world a better, happier place for all and for future generations. ”I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
I’m sure that Jesus being human sometimes laughed at himself! “Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, they will be happy.”We could all take that message to heart.