HUMOR IN THE “APOSTOLIC” CHURCH
(Saturday, May 27)
As we prepare to celebrate the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council this weekend, and Western Christians – Pentecost or the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, – today’s reading from the Book of Acts reminds me that the “apostolic” Church has a sense of humor. The reading is about St. Paul at Troas, where he spoke so long that he “continued his message until midnight.” A young man named Eutychus, who sat in a window in the upper room where they were gathered, “was overcome by sleep” as Paul continued speaking, and eventually Eutychus “fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.” But Paul went down, embraced him, and assured everyone that “his life is in him.” Did the Apostle decide to call it a day, at this point? No. He returned to the upper room (while Eutychus recuperated outside), broke bread and ate, “and talked a long while, even until daybreak,” when he departed. Then “they brought the young man in alive,” writes St. Luke and adds, “and they were not a little comforted.” (Acts 20:12) They were not a little comforted *after* the Apostle left, mind you, when they retrieved the young man who survived the all-night sermon.
This reminds me of what I heard an abbess say jokingly after hosting a visiting bishop, which involved a lot of work: “Nothing warms my heart like seeing the back of a departing bishop.” I love this, because it is said by one who is very dedicated both to the Church and to doing things like hosting a bishop “properly.” It’s okay to not take ourselves too seriously today, just like it was okay, apparently, for St. Luke to include the little story about the great Apostle to the Gentiles talking someone to death. Thank You, Lord, for Your holy Apostles, and for the women and men who brighten our lives with the sense of humor of a Church “apostolic.”