Please God—Humor Us.

 (For the audio version of this blog, please visit:

Prophets and the best comedians have something in common: they’re fearless truth-tellers. They’re also their own most honest critics. While on life’s stage, for them, failure to win over an audience can result in literal or figurative death (“I died out there,” a comedian might say).

Jesus deals with one of those hostile audiences and faces literal death in this Sunday’s gospel reading (Lk 4:21-30). In fact, when his teaching about how God chooses his chosen people lands with a thud, Jesus responds:

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

Sounds like the tagline comedian Rodney Dangerfield made famous: “No respect; no respect at all.”

Jesus’ audience that day tried to prove it.

They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

This showcases the courage God’s truth-tellers require. In Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 12:31—13:13), Paul uses the hyperbole of a comic to tell the Corinthians a truth that history will never let us forget:

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Here, Paul demonstrates a skill professional truth-tellers learn: balancing between the comfort in knowing God is with them and the humility of realizing that gift is not for them alone. The prophet Jeremiah gives voice to that lesson in Sunday’s first reading (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19):

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

Let’s conclude with the “Prayer for Good Humor,” in which St. Thomas More, one of Catholicism’s greatest and most courageous humorists, shares with us why he and his fellow truth-tellers deserve our undying respect:

“Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I.’ Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke, to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others.”

–Tom Andel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *