Life can be full of laughter. Actually it should be full of laughter. Eugene O’Neill wrote a play which he named Lazarus Laughed. In it, he pictures Lazarus, after his resurrection from the dead, going about laughing.
Why? Because Lazarus now knows the secret. He himself is amazed at what he has just discovered. “There is only life!” he keeps exclaiming. “I heard the heart of Jesus laughing in my heart . . . and I laughed in the laughter of God! ” The growing crowds that surround Lazarus capture his mood and as they march forward, they start chanting, “Laugh! Laugh! Laugh with Lazarus! Fear is no more! There is no death!”
At the climax of the play, Lazarus faces Caesar who has decided to condemn him to death. But Lazarus laughs at the Emperor’s threats. Now he knows the secret. He is put to death still laughing. Poor Caesar, he is completely baffled; how can a man laugh going towards a certain death? Caesar does not know the secret of a Christian!
They say that Martin Luther had a rather depressive temperament. One morning when he was quite despondent, his wife came downstairs all dressed in black. Surprised, Luther asked her who was dead. She replied, “Oh, you have not heard? God died.”
Luther rebuked her, “How can you talk such nonsense, Katie? How can God die?”
“Is that really true?” she asked. “Well, if He is not dead, explain to me why you are so disconsolate and discouraged?”
God is alive and so there is no reason not to laugh. Obstacles exist but He is bigger than they are. Sin exists but He is well known for taking pride in forgiving sins. Many times in life we are losers but the victory through the Lamb has been promised to us.
Sometimes He surprises us and gives us just the opposite of what we expect or want. But as Louis Evely said in his precious book ‘Joy’ “God is God only if he surprises us, disappoints us, disconcerts us. He is too large for our heart to contain. If he did only what we expected of him, he would not be God, but an idea or dream of ours.”
The secret is to keep always lifting our eyes to Him. A small boy was heard praying, “Dear God, I hope you take good care of yourself, because if anything happens to you, we would all be in a real mess!” I eagerly say Amen to that prayer!
The secret is to keep looking beyond the obvious. There is a story of two identical twins. One was a hope-filled optimist, the other one was a sad and hopeless pessimist. One Christmas morning, both of them came down from their bedroom eager to go over their Christmas presents.
The parents had come up with a brilliant idea. They gave the pessimist the best toys they could afford, while they gave the optimist a box of manure. As expected, the pessimist, as he unwrapped all these goodies, started complaining, “I don’t like the color of this computer … I’ll bet this calculator will break . . . I don’t like this game . . . I know someone who’s got a bigger toy car than this . . .”
On the other side, their little optimist boy was gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
Indeed, happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances. The little ones know. A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.
The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “but no one knows what God looks like.”
Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”
A happy person can even knock over criticism into humor. In his mail one morning, the pastor found one single sheet in an envelope on which was written one word: “fool”. The next Sunday he announced, “I have known many people who have written letters and forgot to sign their names. But this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name and forgot to write the letter!”
Yes, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5 and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus was sitting here, He would say “Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.” Hearing this, Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!’
Yes, remember… laughter even makes you beautiful! I have never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful!
(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.