The Third Sunday after The Epiphany

I was at Sea Cadets this week and asked to sit with a group of relatively new cadets and
help them plan what we might do for Her Majesty’s Platinum celebrations in June. We
had a variety of weird, wacky, and worthy ideas and in the free-for-all conversation a

cadet looked at me and asked, ‘Padre, are you older than the Queen?’. Slightly be-
mused that we had been talking about the number 70(!) in relation to the years of Her

Majesty’s reign, I said that The Queen was older.
‘Really?’ ‘Yes, really!’ ‘How much older?’ I did a
quick calculation, ‘About 30 years older’. There

was a pause in the conversation as the other ca-
dets tuned in and discussed The Queen’s age.

‘Wow’ came the response. ‘You’re older than my
Gran!’. I laughed as the cadet spoke a little about
his Gran and family.
This wasn’t the first time I have been categorised
as ‘old’ by the cadets. What I enjoyed about the

moment is the spontaneous interchange – conver-
sations can go to some interesting and unexpected

places – but also the smiles and laughter that accompany the journey. I like smiles and

laughter. They can reflect and express humour, camaraderie, something funny, a pleas-
ant moment, warmth, and much more. Smiles and laughter can enrich moments and

Sadly we’re also aware that smiles might be false and laughter might be cruel and yes
it’s like a double poison whereby those being malicious in this way are doing so using a
means that is supposed to enrich relationships and strengthen bonds between people.
That’s part of the nastiness, I suppose. Sigh. Why do we have to behave in ways that
hurt others?

I would like it if there were some accounts of Jesus smiling and laughing but on this mat-
ter there is silence. A dear friend of mine used to say that he thought Jesus must have

smiled a lot. His reasoning was that it was noticed particularly when Jesus wept or was
angry and maybe that was the unexpected moment to how Jesus usually was – and
thus noticed. We have no specific idea why the parents brought their children to Jesus

for him to bless them but there has always been a warm link between Jesus and chil-
dren. And I certainly like to imagine Jesus smiling, enjoying life, even as – maybe it

should be, especially as he came to rescue us. If we can imagine life weighing us down,
we can also imagine how weighed down Jesus might have been so that he never
cracked even the tiniest of smiles. But that does work for me.
I suppose I return often to two verses from Jesus that help me imagine Jesus living in
both a moment and also with his goal in life. Jesus talked about that he came so that his
sheep could have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). He also said, shortly before

his arrest, that his followers can have peace in him but in the world we will have tribula-
tions or troubles – and he wasn’t wrong! – but then Jesus also said that we should take

heart because he has overcome the world (John 16:33)! Yes, I know these are faith
statements – unprovable on Planet Earth – but they are not unliveable!
With Jesus with us, we can live in the moment and laugh or cry as befits the moment
because we have a confidence and security that our good Lord has given us his life –
life with him – for us to live abundantly – and for me, that includes lots of laughs and
smiles. GS