Our Scriptures today, as they do every year as we near the end of the Liturgical Year, have us reflect upon the end times. Death is something we usually do not spend our time thinking or talking about.
As people of Faith, we believe that life here on Earth is not the end all and be all, but a step if you will to life eternal with our God of love and mercy.
But if there is one thought that comes from the readings, especially the first reading, is the FAITHFULNESS to one’s convictions of faith even in time of challenge, even in the face of death. They truly believed that God would raise them up, that they would live eternally with God.
We are probably not going to be threatened with death, however people in our world die daily for their faith. At the very least it makes me wonder how would I stand up to my faith in God, in Jesus in the face of death.
But at the very least, standing up for our faith happens in seemingly little and small ways, yet important ways every day. We pray, we love, we forgive, we help others, we serve others, we grow in being faithful disciples of the Lord at home, work, school, Parish and community: everywhere and anywhere…
Some say life was easier in the past, maybe yes, maybe no.
There is no doubt that life is serious, but there always need to be a balance to life. A balance that needs to include humor. Truth is, we probably do not laugh enough. As one theologian said, “Humor is a prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.”
In his stand-up comedy routine before hundreds of thousands of people awaiting Pope Francis’ visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia last year, Jim Gaffigan said:
“Do me a favor in the audience, I know when I am done, you are going to be tempted to leave, but stick around! We’ve got some amazing people coming up. There’s a guy coming up, 78 years old, used to be a bouncer of a dance club. He is going to talk for a little bit”.
Of course, Gaffigan was referring to Pope Francis, who among the many jobs he worked as a young man, was the bouncer of a dance club for a short time before entering the priesthood. Gaffigan later offered more tongue-in-cheek humor about the struggles of parenting, “Here we are at the World Meeting of Families, right? And parenting, it is an incredible sacrifice. It is expensive. It is exhausting. But the good news is, eventually you die.”
Speaking about his kids, Gaffigan said, “I have an 11 year old, a 9 year old, a 6 year old, a 4 year old, and a 3 year old. I should really learn their names. But they are amazing kids. And I will start the bidding at 50 dollars.”
Gaffigan’s use of humor is an outlet for stress, intended to diffuse family tension, encourage everyone to take themselves a bit more lightly, and demonstrate a way to create joy (and find laughs) in times of difficulty.
May we take life and our faith seriously every day; and may we also take humor and laughter seriously.