Christian Cheer

In every gift show a cheerful countenance, and sanctify thy tithes with joy.

Ecclesiasticus 35:11

For God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

It is sometimes noted that God has a sense of humor, and that his saints likewise display their fondness for a good joke, of a certain kind.

One characteristic of holy humor is its resurgent flourishing in the face of earthly injustice.

As St. Laurence witnessed the martyrdom of Pope Sixtus, whom he had personally assisted in the offering of Holy Mass, Butler tells us that the saint “stood by, weeping that he could not share his fate.”

His sorrow turned to mischievous mirth, however, when the local authorities demanded that he hand over the riches of the Church. “The Saint promised, at the end of three days, to show [the prefect] riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire.”

On the third day, having gathered together a host of “the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful,” Laurence “bade the prefect see the treasures of the Church”!

The joke had its desired effect, setting the holy deacon up to provide his oppressors with even funnier fare. “Roasted over a slow fire, he made sport of his pains,” proclaiming after a time: “I am done enough; eat if you will!”

Today, Christians face a host of foes threatening us with updated forms of plunder and persecution. It is no good pretending the threats do not exist, or lamely lamenting their reality.

If God in his Providence asks us to give, even at the loss of our very souls (Mt. 16:25), let us look on the bright side of the exchange: for “he who sows in blessings, shall also reap blessings” (2 Cor. 9:6).

By the grace of God, may such thoughts inspire us with Christian cheer!

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