by Father Dan Morris
Those familiar with the comedian Jim Gaffigan know that one of his funnier standup bits involves him sharing the news that he and his wife Jeannie have recently welcomed their fifth child.
Playing to the culture’s inability to appreciate the beauty of having a large family, Gaffigan asks, “Do you know what it’s like to have five children under the age of 12? Just imagine you’re drowning . . . and then someone hands you a baby!”
What makes this so funny in an “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” sort of way, is how relatable it is to all areas of life, particularly the various challenges we all face while striving to live our own God-given vocation.
Truly striving to live our faith well — especially when it comes to raising a family in today’s culture — oftentimes leaves us not just feeling like we’re drowning, but doing so while trying to swim upstream.
As a successful comedian, Gaffigan’s comedy is inspiring because of how it sheds light on the lived reality behind his jokes. You see, Gaffigan, along with his wife and five children, are devout Catholics.
Beyond sharing how his faith keeps him committed to only doing “family-friendly” bits, Gaffigan also is not shy about articulating how his primary vocations as a husband and father are the very roles that keep him grounded, enabling him to see the many ways his wife and children are a tremendous blessing and gift.
During an interview in which he was asked to speak candidly about the dangers and dark side of the entertainment industry he finds himself in, Gaffigan commented that it’s scary to think how all of us — not just comedians and celebrities — are infected and at risk.
Although he loves doing standup comedy, he said that’s why having a family to love and care for is a great gift. While not going so far as to claim having a family is a cure for all narcissism, he does say that his wife and five children are a reminder every day that his life and vocation are not about him.
Rather, his greatest fulfillment and purpose in life will only be realized in the measure that he himself becomes a gift.
It’s no wonder now why Jesus came to us as a baby. It’s little mystery why he still makes himself “present” to us in the Eucharist.
Still finding ourselves drowning in a world infected by selfishness and sin, it remains the most powerful way for God to communicate that we will only find true fulfillment and peace in our lives in the measure that we are willing to become a gift.
May we never find ourselves too overwhelmed or busy to receive the message and gift that is Jesus Christ himself at Christmas!