When (and How) to Laugh

All things have their season . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh.

Eccl. 3:1, 4

Didymus the Blind (313-398) tells us that there are two kinds of weeping, one praiseworthy, one reprehensible; and likewise with laughing.

Laughter is destructive when it proceeds from “a life which is prone more to lust than to a love of God.” Such laughter rejoices in the disorder that occurs when we idolize our own desires, amusement, vanity, or pride. It ignores the correction that inevitably follows from our infidelity to the nature of things.

Weeping is praiseworthy when it flows from an abandonment of and opposition to such derangement. The mournful soul is comforted (Mt. 5:5) by looking forward to a restoration of those abundant goods temporarily tarnished by the sins of the world. Thus our Lord teaches: “Blessed are ye that weep now: for you shall laugh” (Lk. 6:21).

If we shall laugh, some laughter must be praiseworthy. According to Didymus, laughter is holy when it accompanies the fruits of the Spirit: “charity, joy, peace, patience” (Gal. 5:22).

Just as the fruits of the Spirit are available to us now, so is a laughter that heals. “The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just” (Ps. 117:15).

Weeping that interferes with heavenly laughter is not from above. When the Lord pipes, he desires that his followers dance for joy (Mt. 11:17).

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