Remember when the funniest jokes were the clean ones? They still are! Let us start with a philosopher. Diogenes lived 300 hundred years before Christ. When Alexander the Great visited Corinth, he went to visit him, and found him lying down enjoying the sun. Alexander asked if there was anything that he could do for him, and Diogenes answered, “Yes, stand out of my sun.” Alexander’s courtiers began mocking Diogenes, but Alexander said, “If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.”
By flattery, the Cyrene philosopher Aristippus had won himself a place at the court of Dionysus, tyrant of Syracuse. One day, observing Diogenes preparing some lentils for a meal, Aristippus said, “If you would only learn to compliment Dionysus, you wouldn’t have to live on lentils.” “And if you would only learn to live on lentils, you wouldn’t have to flatter Dionysus”, retorted Diogenes.
One day at Plato’s Academy, the students were trying to come up with a definition of man. They finally agreed on “a featherless two-legged animal”. Diogenes plucked a chicken and threw it over the wall of the Academy.
Let us now pass to monks. There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket that was pulled to the top by several monks who pulled and tugged with all their strength. Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was scary.
One tourist got exceedingly nervous about halfway up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope.
The monk thought for a moment and answered tersely, “Whenever it breaks.”
And finally one on married couples. When all people on earth were dead and waiting to enter paradise, God appeared and said, “I want the men to make two lines. One line for the men who were true heads of their household and the other line for the men who were controlled by their women. On the other hand, I want all the women to report to St. Peter.”
Rapidly, the women were gone and there were two lines of men. The line of the men who were dominated by their wives was one thousand miles long, and in the line of men who truly were heads of their household, there was only one man.
God said, “You men should be ashamed of yourselves. I created you to be the head of your household. You have been disobedient and not fulfilled your purpose. I told you to be the spiritual leader in your family. Of all of you only one obeyed. Learn from him. Tell them, my son, how did you manage to be the only one in this line?”
The man replied, “I don’t know, my wife told me to stand here.”
The poet Sean O’Casey wrote, “Laughter is wine for the soul-laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness…. the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living.”
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.