Jesus was known to drop “a line” or two throughout the Gospels. Today is a good example. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.” Jesus just had the perfect touch of sometimes overstating the obvious to prove a point to those who couldn’t see His vision. You might say He was the first Caption Obvious. I think a lot of people try to be that way, but unlike Christ, we haven’t perfected the perfect method of delivering that one line. I am the perfect example of this.
Sometimes my wit and my humor don’t accomplish the goal I had in mind when the “joke” comes to mind, which is to make people laugh. Laughter is good. Maybe it’s in the way I deliver the joke. My first example goes back years ago when I was working in Decatur, IL. Whenever there was a birthday, a wedding or even when someone was sick, I would write a rhymy poem, start with a sentimental statement and turn it into a crass little one-liner. I would hand make the card and everyone in the office would sign it and then we would give it to the person whose birthday, wedding, etc. it was. People in the office loved it and looked forward to getting those cards – they even nicked -named them “Jerrymarks”. Then came the card that ended all of this. Someone had been sick for a couple of days and wasn’t in the office, so the request came for a “jerrymark”. I wrote on the front of the card “We understand you’re not feeling well these days…“. On the inside was written “So I guess you want us to feel sorry for you...” Everyone signed it; we put it in an envelope and her best friend from the office brought it to her. All was going to be right in the world, the card that everyone signed would be just the touch of love that she needed to boost her spirits and get her back to work. Two problems. First, she was in the hospital (and not at home) which we didn’t know. Second, she in the hospital for a nervous breakdown, which we didn’t know. What was meant to be a sign of love, albeit a sarcastic one, was unfortunately not received that way. When she finally came back to work a few weeks later, I apologized and she graciously accepted the apology. I’ve not written a card like that since.
The last example i will offer happened the day after my son Jerome’s wedding. Sarah and I were having breakfast at the Kolache Factory after 7:30 AM Mass and our daughter Cecilia was with us. She had just found out that her husband Garrett’s family came over on the Mayflower. Wow, that’s a coincidence because the Dorhauer line can be traced back to John Howland – who came over on the Mayflower. Well it turns out that her husband Garrett’s family can be traced back to none other than John Howland too – what a small world we live in. So I came up with some elaborate text message and immediately sent it to my brothers, sister and Aunt about how what a dark day it was…to make a long story short, it was sarcastic joke about divorce and cousins marrying cousins that was laughed at by my brothers but was not received well by my sister and especially my Aunt. Again, I apologized to both, they have both graciously forgiven me.
So is there a point to all of this? Yes. Sometimes humor can be a bad thing. While others laugh, there can be others who are hurt and hurt deeply. Last night, my wife came to me with those 7 words I’ve come to accept as a key role to my vocation as a father and as a husband. 7 simple and yet, profound words. “You need to talk to your son.” Turns out, I was the perfect one to talk to my son last night because I paved the path that he was walking on. Another long story short, he posted a comment on instagram that was meant to be humorous only as some took as such. But there were many other who did not, so I shared with him my wisdom about being careful, especially when it comes to family, about doing that. Hopefully this incident will end peacefully.
Do something great for our Lord today – don’t quit your day job to become a stand-up comedian. Pray that we can all be like St. Francis…
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.