Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Resurrection of Our Lord. It is the most important feast day on our Church calendar because it is the moment of redemption when Christ displays His power to bring everlasting life. What He talked about in theory is displayed as a reality that goes beyond this world. It is also, quite ironically, the secular holiday known as April Fools day where people play jokes on each other for fun. Yet, as different as both these holidays seem, they can go together if seen in the right light.
On one hand, Jesus often uses jokes to make points in His sermons and conversation. Humor is very culturally dependent and does not often translate well between cultures and time periods. So, this fact only reveals itself when a careful reader of scripture looks between the lines. For example, when He says, “If your neighbor asks you for your cloak, give him your tunic also,” He is telling His audience that if someone asks for an outer garment, they should also give their underwear to them. Often in our culture, jokes are meant to express the opposite of what the joke teller means. But, Our Lord, uses humorous language to more fully express a point.
On the other hand, despite being perfectly clear in retrospect, He manages to fool everyone at His resurrection. Throughout His earthly ministry, He would often make references to His death and resurrection. Yet, when the time came for Him to die, all His disciples were scandalized and fled. Then, when He finally rose from the dead, none of them expected it. Even Mary Magdalene, who has the honor of being the first person recorded to see Our Lord, approached the tomb, to anoint the body. Then when she finally saw the Risen Lord, she mistook Him for a gardener. Even the powers against Jesus were fooled: they thought they were getting rid of Him when He just returns with even more glory than before.
Some people historically have argued that Jesus is never recorded to have laughed in any of the Gospels. To this point, I quote G. K. Chesterton (who was an incredibly funny guy Himself if you get his humor). He says in Orthodoxy, “There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.” Though, in all honesty, I think the bigger joke this year was having St. Valentine’s Day fall on Ash Wednesday.
God bless and have a Holy Easter!