Many years ago I was given a cross-stitch sampler that someone had made for me. The words on the sampler were “Live Simply, Love Truly and Laugh Freely.” It hangs on my bedroom wall and the words caught my eye as I rushed out this morning. I began to think of the implications of these words. Are they supposed to be a rule of life? Will I live a happy and fulfilled life if I make these words my rule of life?
My instinct was to match these words to the person of Jesus and his call for us to follow him. I know he has given us the Beatitudes as our way of living, our rule. We can find words in the gospel that encourage us to live simply. Jesus warns against allowing processions to slow us down, he calls us to love the poor. CAFOD has a project which encourages parishes to be Live Simply parishes. This means that the community is living simply, in solidarity with people in poverty and sustainably worth creation.
Jesus shows us what it means to love truly. His love was total and unconditional. His love led to his death and resurrection. Jesus died that we may have life. I notice that today in many posters encouraging us to give at Christmas the word “Kind” is used. It seems to be a less threatening word and more acceptable word than love. Love is strong word and calls for a total commitment.
But what about “laugh freely”? I can’t think of occasion in the Gospel that speaks of Jesus laughing. Although I did have a great picture of Jesus laughing with some children. But then joy is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis in Easter week this year said “Joy is not the consequence of emotions that burst for a wonderful thing… No, it is more, This joy, which fills us, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit one cannot have this joy. To be full of joy,” the pope said, “is the experience of the highest consolation, when the Lord makes us understand that this is something different from being cheerful, positive, bright…” “No, it is another thing,” he continued. It is “an overflowing joy that really hits us. Receiving the joy of the Spirit is a grace.” We certain need this grace at this time.