Have you ever had a friend who just didn’t get your sense of humor? Maybe one that knew you really well, but took everything you said way too seriously? There are a great many people who take themselves too seriously today, and as a result, have a problem understanding humor. I’ve even found myself falling into the trap of becoming ‘serious’ when around one of these people, unable to laugh off the small issues in favor of looking at the larger ones.
There is probably nowhere that this problem is more common than in religion. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be serious about religion, but that we need to be willing to take ourselves with a little less severity in order to understand what we are about.
Jesus had a moment (really, many, but there’s one highlighted in today’s readings) like this with the disciples, who, having forgotten to bring enough bread for themselves, were probably about to get in a fight over who got it. Realizing what was going on, Jesus said, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.” Take a moment to appreciate the humor there. They are about to bicker over bread, and Jesus says, look out, you’re about to become like the ‘haves’ or as contemporaries to us might say, the 1%ers. It’s a funny statement. They are about to compromise the unity of their group for a meal. Not even a meal, it’s a loaf of bread. Obviously, the disciples don’t get it, and then they fall into bickering, not-quietly-enough, over who should have brought the bread and how hungry they are, and Jesus has to remind them about at least two instances in which he took care of many more people with much less, and had plenty of food to spare. When we lose sight of what’s important, when we lose sight of our relationships with people, we lose the thread of joy.
Don’t take yourself, or Jesus, so seriously.