I perceive in our world and in our Church a deficit of good humour. The good kind. Humour is like cholesterol: there is good and bad. Humour does not always produce benefits. As an intelligent way of looking out over the balcony of the world, it can see not only the beautiful and sparkling, but also our limitations, our finite and contingent nature. It can therefore become a form of love or a refined form of cruelty.
We speak here of good humour, because I believe it is not only a rare commodity, but for many it is also a somewhat confusing attitude. It is worth taking note of its benefits from the mediated or immediate reactions that good humour provokes. One of these may be tears, and why not? There are tears of laughter and there are tears of love. Another can be wisdom; that which hides behind the ridiculous, caricatured and even tragic side of existence. But its most common effects are laughter and smiles. Both are excellent ways of reacting to life, effective ventilators of bad moods and safe therapies for mental and spiritual health.
When smiling becomes a continuous attitude and even a way of looking at the world, it is like the curve that straightens out many crooked situations. An example: When Gabriela Mistral describes in her book La maestra rural, who, despite being a poor wounded woman, was cheerful. She writes that “her smile was a way of weeping with kindness”.
It is true that smiles are still manipulated as a form of marketing. The famous Chinese proverb “if you can’t smile, don’t open a shop”, or the American one, “the world is a camera, please smile”, are poisoned by self-referentiality. But it is also true that if you start by smiling on the outside, you end up smiling on the inside. This is how that jovial side of truth shines on our faces, which brings us out of ourselves and makes us more human, indulgent and sweet.
Pope Francis reminded the Claretians of this last September: “…do not fall into this dry austerity, please do not lose your sense of humour. Know how to laugh in community, know how to make jokes, and laugh at the jokes told by others, do not lose your sense of humour, a sense of humour is a grace of joy and joy is a dimension of holiness”. That’s clearer than water.
So, as the proverb says, one must laugh before being happy, for fear of dying without having laughed. Especially in the Church, where from God’s point of view it would be wonderful to laugh and smile, and yet we have never been so serious. He must be laughing at our lack of good humour.
Juan Carlos cmf
(PHOTO: Jacqueline Munguía)