I hate being laughed at.
I remember the time I was talking to a financial planner, asking him about how much I should put into an index fund. After looking at my financial statement, he said it wasn’t possible to do what I was asking. When I asked him why, he looked at me, paused, and with a sarcastic burst of laugher, said “Because you don’t make enough money.”
That was about 25 years ago, but I still can remember the fear, the sense of being on my own. Which is so ironic, because in my house, I am often the one who is most cynical, the first one making a sarcastic remark. “She going to do what?” “He’ll never be able to do that.” “Oh, they always do that at that office.” I am one of those people laughing at Jesus in the Gospel. And if you are honest, maybe sometimes you are right there in the crowd with me as well.
Looking at today’s Gospel, you could say some things never change. When Jesus arrives at the home of the young girl, St Mark says “And the crowd ridiculed him.” In the Greek, the word ‘ridicule’ is katagelao. It means “to laugh down, to deride, or to scorn”. In other Bible translations, this passage is written as “And they laughed at him.” And guess what? Jesus gets annoyed, too. In the very next line it says He “put them all out.” He didn’t want to hear it. He just got rid of the doubters. He had something important to do.
We should try to remember that. When someone laughs at you for trying to do something impossible, put them out. Out of your head. Deleted from your texts. Out of your Google Hangout. Don’t let someone else’s negativity and doubts pull your talents and your confidence down. Sort of like Wayne Dyer’s advice: “What other people think of me is none of my business.”
This can be hard to do, but two Sacraments help me out in a big way on this: Reconciliation and Eucharist. One grants me the grace and humility to see the times I have laughed at others, the other gives me the strength to be more accepting and more positive.
How would your next crisis be different if you reminded yourself of this Gospel story? What if you modeled that behavior for your family, your children? How confident could you become knowing that even Jesus was laughed at? He’s right there with you. And… maybe we’d all stop laughing at others in the process.
We all know of famous examples of people who were laughed at. There are always people who will laugh at you. On January 1st, 1962, four young musicians went to north London to audition for Decca Records. John, Paul, George and Ringo sat down in a small studio and played about 15 songs. A few weeks later, their manager got a letter in the mail. The president of Decca said thanks, but no thanks. “Guitar groups are on the way out,” he said. Later, he reported derided them to an associate, “The Beatles have no future in the music business.”
What would the music world look like if they just gave up, and listened to the doubters? What if Jesus gave up, and listened to those people who were mocking him when He arrived at the synagogue official’s house?
Here’s the bottom line: We all need to put those people aside, those who laugh at you because of your convictions, and do what we need to do to build the Kingdom of God.
I can say that one comment by the financial advisor motivated me more than just about any other over the years to get my financial act together. If I met that financial advisor today, I would tell him in detail about our pension, our retirement plan, our modest investments. I’d use a lot of words to tell him about these things with confidence. About how I put his doubts out of my head.
But Jesus only needed seven words in the English translation to silence his doubters…
“Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
How many words will you need?