The three smiles
“An evangelizer should not always have a funeral face”. The pope’s provocation is not a random joke and the idea that Christians are always sad is not new: “they should sing the best songs in order to learn to believe in their Savior! Their disciples should be a major part of the saved peoples!” as Nietzsche claimed.
However, how can we smile when worries, our work, small setbacks and larger pains loom so large in our lives?
The first smile is crucial: the man who smiles is in heaven, says Scripture. Once again, the joy of the Lord is your strength. It is the smile of God. The joy with which the Creator contemplates all creation is the solid base for the serenity and peace for all of us. Isn’t it irreverent to think that God, the Lord of the Universe, smiles? “God loves us so much more when we wake up to his sense of humor” says a personage created by Ray Bradbury. “I never thought of God as humorous” I opposed. The response is surprising: “The Creator of the platypus, the camel, the ostrich, and man? Oh, come on!”
The second smile is one one with which he looks at me. Without losing track of my humanity, my limitations, which are not necessarily my fault, and I shouldn’t take too seriously. My Creator loves me as I am, for if He had wanted me otherwise he would have created me differently. “To be able to see the musing side of life and its joys - Benedict XVI once said – and not to view all as a tragedy this is very important, and I say this is also necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they do not take everything so seriously. And we could perhaps fly a bit more if we didn’t give it all that much importance.”
The smile is an act of humility, is to accept oneself, and the way I am, to remain in peace. Not to take oneself too seriously, because “seriousness is not a virtue. It may be a heresy, but much more I would like to say that seriousness is a vice. Is there really a natural tendency (a kind of decadence) to take oneself so seriously because it is the easiest thing to do? Solemnity is the power of those without strength, and a smile is an impulse. It is easy to be weighted down, hard to be light of heart. Satan fell through the force of weight.” (Chesterton)
The third smile is the result of the first two. It is the smile with which I greet those I meet by chance, and those with whom I work and live. With affection ,and without taking too seriously faults and mistakes. With a happy heart. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, said to the audience: “Always smile at your family. Treat others as if they were family. Smiling”
The clothing of a man, his smiling face, and his manner of going, reveals who he is, says Ecclesiastes. The smile can be a signal to recognize a Christian.
d. Carlo Marchi