LITURGY MATTERS – Did Jesus laugh?
By Michael McKenna, Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies.
Throughout history, the Church has ceaselessly preached that a personal relationship with the Incarnate Christ is the way to the Father (Jn 14:6) For his part, Pope Francis habitually encourages the faithful to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament every day. Not so much out of pious devotion but instead promoting the possibilities from just being in Christ’s presence and seeing where that leads.
St John Vianney related with joy the words of a peasant man who, when asked what transpired during his frequent visits to Jesus, said simply “I look at him and he looks at me”. After more than 40 years of such visits, me looking at Him and Him looking at me, the child in me still becomes distracted and my mind wanders. Who is this person Jesus, in front of me? Does He laugh?
In one sense it is a dumb question. That our Lord lacked a sense of humour would contradict His perfect human nature. Yet in another sense, is it so foreign a question in the context of cultivating a personal relationship with another human being, far less the Incarnate Christ?
From the impossibly blue-eyed Jesus in King of Kings, Jeffrey Hunter, to the convincingly tortured Jesus, Jim Caviezel, in The Passion of the Christ, nearly 70 actors have portrayed Jesus for film in the past century. Peering through the lenses of film, art, literature, and even Scripture, the fear of misrepresenting the Son of Man, and the gravity of rendering the Gospel accounts has delivered us a Jesus with the most austere humanity.
Recently I discovered a new religious dramatisation project: The Chosen. Jonathan Roumie portrays a robustly divine and human Jesus seen through the eyes of salvation history’s pivotal players. Roumie’s Jesus turns water into wine, heals the paralytic, converses with the Samaritan woman at the well and asks the most unlikely people to follow him. But he also makes jokes, playfully stacks cups while telling stories to children, dances, teases and even engages in a bit of imperfect sarcasm. Far from diminishing the mystery of the Incarnation, watching Jesus portrayed in this way has had the curious effect of heightening it all the more.
Now when I pay a visit, I can imagine Jesus laughing at laughable things like children who are easily distracted and ask dumb questions. I look at Him and He looks at me and sometimes now, we laugh!