April Fool's Day – a practical joker's holiday. As you can imagine, I've been involved with a number of practical jokes over the years, whether as the “fool” on the receiving end or on the joker's end. Priests can make the best practical jokers because no one sees it coming!
I certainly enjoy practical jokes, but hopefully not at the expense of harming anyone or offending the dignity of a person. In this day in age, I'd rather see us develop a sense of humor rather than just playing practical jokes. Our faith offers a great platform for sharing joy with others!
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At a recent Catholic Family conference in Kokomo, Indiana, I gave a talk to a small group of young people about what it means to be a “Fool for Christ.” I told them how the word FOOL could really stand for Faithful, Obedient, Opportunity, and Love in its most complete understanding.
We are called to be “leaven” in society, which basically means someone who knows how to lighten things up. It's not that we can't take anything seriously, but be have to put in more energy and focus and trust in God rather than dwelling on the negative.
A great example of a saint who employed this approach to life was St. Philip Neri, a 16th century Italian priest, sometimes called “The Humourous Saint”. He often used his humor as an avenue to humility, but also to a pure Christian joy, which he called a “gift from God.” He also said, “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.” So let us open ourselves and others to these joys through our actions and be the leaven we are called to be.
St. Philip Neri, a.k.a.“The Humorous Saint.”
On this April Fool's Day, consider how we are called to be Fools for Christ. How we are called to be leaven in the world. And consider how laughter is a wonderful form of medicine!
Bring the joy of the faith to your family around the dinner table!
Let us pray
Father, give us a genuine sense of humor, rooted in the theological virtue of joy, much like St. Philip Neri. Give us the grace to be leaven in society, the same way leaven is used to elevate and rise dough. Make us consistent in our trust in your care, especially when we experience situations in life that are no laughing matter. Give us grace to know that believing in the Good News may make us Fools for Christ in this world, but that we'll be smiling all the way to heaven! Through Christ our Lord. Amen.