Classically speaking, a comedy isn’t necessarily funny. What makes a story or situation comic rather than tragic is its perspective on human nature and destiny. Remember Dante’s Divine Comedy? I bet many of us never made it out of Part 1: Hell. But we know that after Hell comes Part II: Purgatory and finally Part III: Paradise. That final arrival makes the whole thing, ultimately, a comedy.
How does comedy differ from tragedy? The tragic view emphasizes our disastrous pride, greed, and ambition with their resulting terrors-war, injustice, destruction, and the ubiquitous suffering that has no apparent redemptive value. Comedy points to human finitude-foolishness, humiliation, weakness-and it smiles wryly, ironically, at the deep-down goodness of creation manifest despite us, and even through us.
While we know tragedy is true because it shapes our world, comedy is even truer because it says to tragedy, “Yes, but . . ..” This “Yes, but …. ” helps us know that we are not the measure of all things and that however strange God’s movements may seem, we are engaged in a life that is both blessed and blessing.
This week’s passages all point to the comic vision-the “yes, but” of a life lived in the confidence of God’s steadfast love and abundant grace: fountain of life in whose light we see light. We acknowledge that God is here, however awful or uninspiring here may be .
Lord of life, grant us the conviction that your love steadies us in all tragedy and draws us through it, transforming us through the events into people who can follow the light of your star. Amen.