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Q.

Dear Father Angelo,

Is it true that Jesus never laughs in the scriptures and if it is true how does the Church justify it?

Thank you, Andrea.


A.

Dear Andrea,

1.    What you observe is true: the Gospel does not record that Jesus laughed.

Nevertheless, neither does it deny it.

2. I believe, however, that Jesus has always manifested Himself with a face that is both majestic and sweet, just as He appeared to Saint Catherine of Siena when He appeared to her above the Church of San Domenico in Siena.

Here is what Blessed Raimondo da Capua, her spiritual director and first biographer, says: “Staring at her with his eyes full of majesty, and smiling sweetly at her, he raised his right hand above her and, making the sign of the cross as prelates do, gave her the gift of his eternal blessing” (Saint Catherine of Siena, no. 29).

If the children were willingly in the arms of Jesus, it was because they were comfortable.

I am convinced that the Lord manifested himself to them just as he manifested himself to Saint Catherine: with his majestic gaze and smiling sweetness.

3. Here is what the Gospel of Mark says: “And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”

Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them” (MC 10:13-16).

4. However, perhaps there is a reason why the Gospel does not mention Jesus laughing.

In Jesus, the goal for which he had come was always present: redemption through the cross.

He had before him always and at all times the sins of all men. He had them before Him not in a general way, but He saw them specifically one by one in individual persons. Moreover, he saw the extent to which sins brought evil to those who committed them and remained slaves to them.

5. Of course, that was not all there was to Jesus’ soul.

There was also more (the beatific vision).

But there was also this.

6. In this regard, I would like to quote an unpublished writing, published posthumously, by Paul VI: “Suffering is measured by sensitivity. The most serious sensitivity is that of the spirit.

It is true that Jesus said of Himself: “Spiritus quidem promptus est, caro autem infirma”. (“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41).

However, this does not exclude the fact that the spirit was not sensitive in Him, even if strong and sustained by the heroic will to do the will of the Father, in Whose mysterious designs the Passion was decreed.

Jesus had what no one else has, the foreknowledge of his sufferings; not only a hypothetical prediction, but an exact knowledge, descriptive even.

How many times did Jesus, almost allowing the fullness of his spiritual suffering to overflow, confide to his disciples the humiliating and excruciating fate that awaited him?

He foresaw (see “the cup” of Jesus: Mt 20:22,23; Jv 18:11; Mt 26,39) throughout his life, the painful epilogue that would end it in his temporal sphere.

He lived every day in the oppressive reverse clairvoyance of the fate that was destined for him. He did not avoid it, he did not escape it.

In the soul of Christ the ineffable bliss of his divine consciousness, the boundless sadness of his impending Passion was simultaneous: a veil of prophetic gravity is spread over his human face, on which laughter never appeared.

And Jesus was aware not only of his own pain, but also of evil; of the sin for which he was a victim (see Jn 1:29; 19:11), of the betrayal plotted against him (Mt 26:21 ff.), of his own abandonment (Mt 26:31), of Peter’s denial (Ib. 34), etc.

He was constantly aware of “his hour” (Jn 2:4; Mt 26:45; Jn 16:32; Jn 12:27…) and of the “hour” of his enemies (Lk 22:53); he had a foreboding of the imminence of the Passion, even to the point of sweating blood (Lk 22:43); he had a vision of the past, which was consumed in him (see Lk 22:15) and of the new Testament, which was inaugurated by him (ib. 20); the “Scriptures [were] always open to him before his memory (see Jn 19:36; Mt 26:54; Lk 24:32, 35). The spiritual suffering of Jesus invades his whole life and confers on his moral figure a greatness, a fortitude, a depth in which we are terrified and comforted to find ourselves: “tradidit semetipsum pro me” (“he gave himself up for me”, Gal 2:20)” (Paul VI, Unpublished Meditations, Studium, Rome 1993, pp. 44-45).

As you see, your question leads to penetrating the soul of Jesus and gives a glimpse of things that have attracted the attention of the souls most united to the Lord.

Paul VI’s reflection is not a dogma of faith, but it is undoubtedly very beautiful and penetrating.

I wish you well, I remember you in prayer and I bless you.

Father Angelo


Translated by Rossella Roma