“Woe to you who laugh now; for you will grieve and weep.” This is what Jesus says, according to Luke’s sixth chapter, about those who are laughing. In the same place Jesus also gives warnings to those who are wealthy, to those who have an abundant diet, and to those who are popular.
It may seem strange to us, in this day and age, to be warned about laughter. But, of course, for a Christian, laughter is not the highest good. A more neutral, somewhat cautious stance towards laughter is appropriate. After all, couldn’t someone go through her whole life on this earth enjoying good humor, laughing often, and yet be leading an empty and unfulfilling life? It would not be hard to find an example. How often do we see laughter as a symptom of despair? For those who believe life is just a joke, why not laugh, they ask, since it’s better than crying?
But for those who believe in the Christian message, life is not a joke. It is an amazing epic with highs and lows, where Love always wins out in the end. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we weep. As it is written in Romans chapter twelve: “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” But if we avoid those who weep, or, even worse, laugh at them, or if we seek to preserve our good humor at any cost, then something is wrong, even if we are laughing all the way. Then woe to us.