Magicians, acrobats and comedians can all find inspiration in the life of St. John Bosco.
The entertainment industry in the modern world is often looked down upon, especially when the shows produced are contrary to Christian moral values. However, it doesn’t mean that the entire industry should be thrown out or is incompatible with Christianity.
In fact, St. John Bosco would argue that entertainment has the potential to open people’s hearts to the Gospel message.
According to M.S. Pine, in her book A sketch of the life and works of the Venerable Don Bosco, entertainment played a vital role in the saint’s formation. During his childhood, neighbors would flock to his mother’s barn, where she would tell Bible stories. Her narratives were complemented by the jovial acts of her son.
Little John was frequently called upon to report the Sunday sermon — for he had a prodigious memory — or read aloud, or perform some juggling tricks. But these diversions, which he had learned at a fair, were generally enacted under a large old pear tree, his [acts] beginning and ending with prayer or a hymn. Indeed his only end in these humorous entertainments was to gain a moral influence over his audience: prayer and rosary, or no admittance, was his inflexible law, to which all willingly submitted.
John Bosco perfected his performances and was extremely talented in nearly every form of entertainment.
He became a practiced acrobat, danced, turned somersaults, walked on his hands, his feet in the air, multiplied eggs, drew nuts from the noses of the spectators, and transferred watches to neighboring pockets, with other tricks, all enthusiastically applauded by his rural admirers. I have often thought that in his extraordinary genius for fun and humor we may find a partial explanation of the wonderful magnetism with which he attracted the boy nature of every class.
Later when he was ordained a priest and felt a calling to look after orphans, he used his ability to entertain to captivate the young boys with the beauty of the Gospel.
Entertainment has a profound ability to lower our defenses and open us up to the joy the Gospel can give. While many use entertainment for questionable ends, it can still be used as an effective means of evangelization.