Did you see the photograph of Pope Francis wearing a red clown nose? He was congratulating newlyweds who were involved in clown ministry. Repeatedly this pope has reminded us that religion is a joyful affair. Being silly and playing pranks are signs of a good heart. At a catechist’s conference, a sales rep came to my table with some bubble wrap and invited me to take off my shoes and stomp on it with her. She injected some laughter into what was a dull hour. On a movie set George Clooney played a prank on Matt Damon. Every day he had Matt’s pants taken in a little, causing Matt to think he was getting fatter.
I haven’t been above playing pranks. In the convent novitiate we spent hours folding laundry for the crowd at the motherhouse. One sister in my group was deathly afraid of bees. When I found a sticker of a bee made of thread, I took that sister’s bra and sewed the bee onto it. Wonder if she remembers that. Another time a sister was constantly gushing about a great book she was reading. I stole the book from her desk and hid it. Then I worked out a treasure hunt in which she had to follow rhymed clues that took her all over the motherhouse until she recovered her precious book.
Jesus engaged in some fun too. He sent Peter, the fisherman, to fish for tax money carried in a fish’s mouth. Bantering with a Gentile woman, he delighted in her ripostes so much that he cured her daughter. He reveals Zacchaeus up in the tree and invites himself to supper. And what about the time Jesus scared the apostles to death by walking on the water toward them?
Someone observed, “Joy is not a nicety; it’s a necessity.” Causing laughter brings about peace and a feeling of well-being. It is a ministry in itself.
When have you done something silly? Have you ever played a prank on someone?