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Following Faith
Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Divine comedy: a peek at the witty Jesus

We know from the Bible that Jesus wept, but did he laugh?

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The Rev. James Martin thinks so, but you first have to get into a first-century Palestine mind-set.

"What was seen as funny to those living in Jesus' time may not seem funny to us," writes Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

The throngs around Jesus "would probably have laughed at many of his intentionally funny illustrations." Martin writes in an excerpt at CNN.com. "For example, the idea that someone would have lit a lamp and put it under a basket, or that a person would have built a house on sand or that a father would give a child stones instead of bread."

Jesus also seemed to enjoy the humor of others.

When friends tell Nathanael that the Messiah is from Nazareth, Nathanael responds, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Instead of castigating him for the comment, Jesus says of Nathanael, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."

Jesus probably enjoys the gentle mocking tone, since he later picks Nathanael as one of his apostles.

"If part of being human includes having a sense of humor, and if Jesus was 'fully human,' as Christians believe," Martin writes, "he must have had a fully developed sense of humor."

In fact, the priest concludes, Jesus' sense of humor may be one of the reasons he was able to "draw so many disciples around him with ease."

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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