The sounds of thunder are rolling in the distance and black, threatening clouds fill the sky. Lightning flashes and a deep, rumbling voice echoes from overhead.
“Look, Jesus is coming with the clouds! Everyone will see him, even those who pierced him. All peoples of the earth will cry loudly because of him. Yes, this will happen! Amen.”
Suddenly, Jesus and his companion Gabriel appear on a deserted corner in the heart of the city. Both are dressed in traditional robes and sandals.
A loud voice comes from the heavens.
“For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory……”
Gabriel interrupts, the voice stops and he speaks to Jesus.
“Pretty old school Bro! Needs an update. We’re going nowhere will that kind of lingo.”
Jesus pauses and thinks for a moment.
“Well how about this then?”
He then begins to rap.
“They call me the Messiah, the Savior, the Son.
Yeah! That’s me, I’m the one.
I’m comin’ back
And this time I ain’t takin’ no crap.
No more good guy stuff,
I’m gonna be tough.
Mercy is out;
Cryin’ and pleadin’ ain’t gonna count.
I’ll be gettin’ some homies to watch my back,
No more losers like my old school pack.
I took a look at my past
And this time it won’t be like the last.
Twelve Jews I had before
But not no more.
Can’t you see?
I’m goin’ PC.
Luke and John are gone
Now its Hose and Juan.
And that ain’t all,
No more Peter and Paul.
We got Devon and Tyrone
And they’re not alone.
We’re getting’ Kim and Chang
To round out the gang.
I’m gonna vet ’em all real good
No more Judas hangin’ in my hood
Better hope you’re on my right side.
Cause if you’re not on my list
You’re gonna be pissed.
I’ll be comin’ on a cloud,
It’ll gonna be thunder and loud.
Lightning will be lit
And the whole World will shit.
Now there you go, you got my whole diddy.
Just wait and see,
It ain’t gonna be pretty.”
Gabriel replies with an eager grin. “Now you got it going homie! I never knew you were a poet.”
Who do you think wrote the Psalms?” Jesus answers.
Gabriel takes a step back from Jesus and carefully eyes him up and down.
“I don’t know how to say this, but now remember, I’m your friend and friends should always be honest with each other, right?”
Jesus speaks a sigh “Okay let’s hear it.”
Gabriele points to Jesus’s belly protruding from under his robe.
“It looks like you let yourself go while you were on your vacation. Your abs don’t look anything those I see on the crucifixes. I’d say you’re looking kind of porky.”
“On purpose!” Jesus replies confidently.
“What do you mean, on purpose?”
“Just trying to fit in. I’ve come to tend my flock and the flock is pretty chubby these days.”
Suddenly, it begins to rain.
“I thought in Revelations it said you would be “coming on a cloud with thunder and lightning” not “under a cloud with thunder and lightning”?
“John was a very poor speller and had lots of typos. Besides, have you ever asked yourself how did he come up the Four Horsemen idea and all that other crazy shit? ” Jesus replies.
“Mushrooms Bro! Plenty of shrooms!”
Jesus snaps his fingers and an umbrella salesman appears. He is a big man with bulging muscle wearing threatening grimace on his face.
“Looks like you two gents need umbrellas. Five bucks each.”
Jesus hands him four dollars.
“No discounts pal! Ever heard of supply and demand?”
“But blessed are the poor”! Jesus answers.
“It looks like the poor are going to be blessed and wet then” replies the salesman.
Gabriel immediately points to Jesus.
“Do you know who he is? He’s the Son of God!” exclaims Gabriel.
“Oh sure! Next you’ll tell me he’s Jesus Christ!” laughs the umbrella man.
“He is!” Gabriel again exclaims.
The salesman hesitates. Both Gabriel and Jesus wait eagerly anticipating his compliance.
“Well in that case, for you guys, umbrellas are only five bucks each then!” I says with a laugh.
Jesus reaches behind the salesman’s ear and pulls out a ten dollar bill and hands it to him. He takes the money, hands them the umbrellas and walks away.
“Why didn’t you just give him the ten dollars in the first place?” Gabriel asks.
“I read The Art of the Deal!”
“What do you mean by that?” Gabriel again asks.
“The sub title was ‘How to Stiff Everybody You Can and Get Away With It’ “.
“So then why did you give up so quickly and pay him the ten bucks right away like that?”
“Didn’t you see how big he was? He looked like an ‘everybody’ that you couldn’t stiff and get away with it!” Jesus answers.
“Now watch this!”
Jesus reaches behind Gabriel’s ear and holds up a twenty dollar bill.
“How did you do that?” exclaims Gabriele in surprise.
“I am the worker of miracles great and small and besides I always wear long sleeves.” Jesus answers.
“Didn’t you tell me that church attendance is way down and your father is having big budget problems? Where did that money come from?” Gabriel asks.
“That was the last of my Holy Communion money”.
Gabriele points to a cardboard sign Jesus is holding in front of himself. It reads “Repent -The end is near”.
“Do you really think that sign is all we need to get the message out? We need media exposure. We gotta get on TV or go viral on the Internet.”
“You should have thought of that before we left” answers Jesus.
“Me? You’re supposed to be the all-knowing, the omnipotent one remember?”
Momentary silence and then Gabriel speaks. “Hey, maybe we could get on The Joel Ornstein Show or The 700 Club with Pat Robertson before he dies?”
“Yeah, that could be it?” Jesus muses and then speaks.
“But wait a minute- aren’t most of the people that watch those shows old people? All we would reach is the ‘Get off my lawn’ crowd. We need a bigger audience than that, don’t you think?” Jesus answers.
“You mean “senior citizens” – old people is a bit pejorative, like geezers or old farts? You’ve got to get with the new PC rules if we’re going to pull this off!” Gabriel chides.
“Okay then “senior citizens”.
“You know maybe reaching the senior citizens is not such a bad idea after all” Gabriel replies thoughtfully. “It is said ‘The older the wiser’”.
“It is also said ‘The older the more demented’!” Jesus answers.
“Just where did you read that?”
“I didn’t read it, I just said it and everything say is the Gospel truth!”
“Okay I get it!” Gabriel sighs.
They continue to ponder. Suddenly Jesus exclaims.
“I got it. Have you ever seen America’s Funniest Home Videos? It’s one of the most popular shows on TV. They love the videos where people really get hurt.
So here’s what we do. You run in front of a bus and both of your legs are broken, like I mean compound fractures, blood all over the place. Then I come along and heal you on the spot?
Immediately after you get up and start moon dancing like Michael Jackson and while you’re dancing, I slip in a plug from our ‘Second Coming’ tour.”
“I don’t like it. Not at all!” answers Gabriel.
“’Why not?’ You must be kidding!
Wait a minute! How about if we get you rich, really rich. That would get you on TV. You could host Celebrity Apprentice. All you have do to be is immoral, unethical, self-aggrandizing and have a very wealthy father “Gabriel suggests.
“Didn’t just talk about my Dad’s financial situation and besides what about the camel and needle story?”
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t you remember when I said ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven’?”
“That’s old school! Rich is the new religion” Gabriel replies.
Jesus and Gabriel are still standing at the corner pondering their next move.
Suddenly, a bus rides passed them. On the side of the bus is a large picture of an Indian holding a fist full of cash. The sign reads “Pale Faces Wins Mucho Wampum Every day at Kickapoo Kasino”. Gabriel points to the sign excitedly.
“Hey look at that! There’s our answer!”
“What’s Kickapoo Kasino?” Jesus questions.
“That’s where they serve plenty of fire water and cast lots!”
“The last time I saw casting lots I lost my shirt! I’m not so sure about this?” Jesus replies.
“No it’s all different now! They don’t crucify anymore. They just have guys in the back room that will break your legs if they think you’re winning too much” Gabriel reassures him.
“How can you sure we’ll win?”
“Of course we’ll win! There aren’t any losers. I’ve seen it on TV. Everybody always wins!” Gabriel again assures Jesus.
Suddenly, a large white blob of bird shit lands on Jesus’ shoulder.
“What was that?” Gabriel exclaims in a startled voice.
“The Holy Ghost wishing us luck” answers Jesus.
A car pulls up to the stop light at the corner. Jesus walks up to the stopped car and begins to speak to the driver.
“Excuse me! Do you know where the Kick-a- …”
The driver immediately interrupts him.
“No handouts pal. Get rid of the dress and get a haircut and a shave and a job. You cross dressing bums make me sick!” He rolls up the window and speeds off as the light changes.
“Well, so much for the meek inheriting the Earth” Jesus mutters as he walks back to Gabriel.
“Don’t we need some money to start with?” he asks.
Gabriel bends down and pulls a small wade of cash from his sock and shows it to Jesus.
“Here I’ve got some money.”
“Where did you get that?” asks Jesus.
“Remember the time when you kicked over all money changer’s tables? Well, I was your Guardian Angel then and when they chased you out of the Temple I grabbed some of the loose change on the way out.”
“Some Guardian Angel you were!” Jesus snaps.
“What do you mean by that?”
“If I remember correctly, you were the one who had to take a personal day on Good Friday!” Jesus replies.
“I make one little mistake and you won’t let me hear the end of it! Whatever happened to forgive and forget? Turn the other cheek? Let he who is without sin cast the first ….”
Jesus interrupts him in mid sentence – “Did you ever hear the eight Beatitudes?”
Gabriel pauses, ponders and then speaks “I remember only seven? What was the eightieth?”
“Blessed are those who keep their mouth shut for they shall not be punched in the nose.”
They begin to march to the Kickapoo. When they arrive walk to the craps tables. Within minutes a scantily clad cocktail waitress approaches them.
“What will you boy have to drink?”
“What do you have?” asks Gabriel.
“Whatever you want Honey!”
“How about wine?” Jesus asks.
“Red or white?” she answers.
“Red of course!”
The waitress turns and walks away and soon returns with the wine.
“Do you have any crackers?” Jesus asks.
“Do you have to do the ‘This is my body’ thing every time we have a glass of wine? It’s getting to be embarrassing”
Jesus pauses for a moment.
“Okay – forget the crackers then” he tells the waitress.
They stand next to the craps table sipping their wine and carefully studying the action. After several minutes of observation Gabriel speaks.
“I’ve been watching. Every time a new stick man takes over the table he gives the dice to the newest player at the table.”
Just as he finishes speaking a new stick man approaches the table.
“Hey, let’s get over there now and he’ll probably give you the dice” exclaims Gabriel excitedly.
Jesus and Gabriel hurry to the table. Jesus puts down his twenty dollars and the stick man pushes the dice to Jesus.
“New shooter comin’ out!” shouts the Stick man.
Jesus picks up the dice and cups them in his outstretched hand. He closes his eyes and moves his lips silently praying. After a few seconds a player from across the table yells.
“For Christ’s sake will you throw the god damn dice?”
Jesus is startled by the player’s outburst and immediately throws the dice. They come up as a six. He stares angrily at the other player and shouts back.
“See what you made me do! You broke my concentration!”
Gabriel immediately tugs at Jesus’s arm.
“Master – calm yourself.”
Jesus pauses, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He then looks back at the other player and speaks once more this time in a calm voice.
“Thy sins are forgiven thee.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” the player shouts back.
Jesus again pauses, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“It means I’ll let it go this time but don’t let it happen again.”
“Or what?” the player snarls.
Once hearing the response Jesus waves his hand in the player’s direction.
“What do you think you’re gonna….” the man begins to speak and suddenly in mid-sentence his lips continue to move but he is mute. He grasps his throat in panic.
“That’s what! “ Jesus replies snaps.
After a second or two Jesus again waves his hand in the player’s direction. The Player regains his speech, removes his hands from his throat and mumbles quietly to himself.
“Okay – I’m letting you off with a warning this time. Don’t do it again because I’m fresh out of forgivenesses. Gab bet the pass line again!” Jesus shouts.
Jesus picks up the dice again holds them out in cupped hands and mutters. He throws the dice. They strike the wall bounce off and come up with a five and a two. After a second the two flips over to a one. Jesus makes the point and everybody is paid.
Jesus again picks up the dice and immediately starts to throw. Gabriel grabs his arm to stop him before he can throw them.
“Boss – You forgot to bless them!”
“Nah! No problem! I gave them my premium blessing the first time out. All the bugs are gone. It should stick for the rest of the night without any updates” Jesus explains.
Jesus throws the dice. They strike the wall, bounce off and both spin on their points for two seconds and then fall into a six and one. Jesus continues to throw the dice.
The dice come up with seven in different combinations every time.
Soon a noisy crowd of onlookers surround Jesus at the table. They cheer loudly after every throw. Suddenly, Gabriel begins tugging on Jesus’s arm.
“Remember what I told you about winning too much?” he whispers.
Jesus pulls away, “Don’t bother me when I’m hot!”
Jesus throws the dice again. Another seven!
Suddenly two men in black suits and wearing dark sunglasses appear behind Jesus and Gabriel at the table.
“What are you boys up to?” says the bigger of the two men in a gruff, raspy voice.
“About twenty thou” replies without even turning around.
“That’s not what I’m talking about smart guy.”
“We think you’re cheatin’” chimes in the other man.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” Jesus turns and answers.
“What the hell does that mean?” exclaims the larger man in bewilderment.
“We didn’t cheat! Do you think the Savior would break the Seventh Commandment?” Gabriel asks.
“I don’t know nothing about breaking the Seventh Commandment but I do know a bunch about breakin’ arms and legs!” the man growls.
“We think you’ve been cheatin’. Nobody wins that much except on TV commercials and in the movies. Now you can walk out the front door or be carried out the back door. Which is it gonna be?”
“I think we’ll take door number one” Jesus replies.
Jesus and Gabriel turn and walk towards the front door. When they are halfway to the door Jesus turns and shouts back, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord!”
“What did he just yell?” asks the bigger man.
“I’m not sure. Somethin’ about your lips and his constipation!”
“I think we better teach the two wise men here a lesson” answers the other man.
Gabriel immediately gives Jesus a startled look as he sees the two men start to run towards them.
“What are you crazy? Come on let’s get outta here!”
Gabriel grabs Jesus by the arm and they both run out the door and down the street. Jesus pulls a wad of bills out from under his robe and begins counting. Out from an adjacent alley two masked men with gun approach them.
“Dame tu dinero” shouts the first man.
Gabriel turns to Jesus, “What did he just say?”
“I think he said ‘Give me your money’?”
“You think?” questions Gabriel with surprise.
“I understand espaniol un poco.”
“A little? But Master, I thought you could understand all languages? Don’t you get prayers from all peoples of the Earth?”
“Yes I do!” Jesus replies.
“Is it true that you always answer all prayers?”
“Thou hast said it!”
Gabriel is puzzled for moment.
“Well if you don’t understand their language, how can you answer them?”
“Toma mi dinero, pero por favor no me lastimes” Jesus answers while holding out the money to the man.
“What was that?” asks Gabriel with a perplexed look.
“The first safety tip for every tourist, learn how to say ‘Take my money but please don’t hurt me!’”
Jesus then turns to the robbers.
“You guys look Samaritan. You’re not from Samaria are you?” Jesus asks.
“Donde diablos es eso?” the man replies.
“What did he say?”
He said “Where the fuck is that?”
“No se joda, estamos visitando desde el sur del Bronx” chimes in the second man.
“Shit no man – we’re visiting from the South Bronx “Jesus translates.
The robbers grab the money and take off.
“Why did you ask if they were from Samaria? Didn’t you tell a story about the Good Samaritan?”
“Well back in the old days Samaria didn’t always send their best. They sent drug dealers, criminals, rapists and muggers. I assume there are some good ones in the bunch but evidently not these two” Jesus answers.
“Why didn’t you stop them? What are we gonna do now?” Gabriel sighs.
Jesus bends down and then straightens up holding several hundred dollar bills.
“Another miracle? Praise be!” Gabriel exclaims.
Jesus points to one of his scandals with a small open slit in the side.
“Sweet! I didn’t know you had those Secret Pocket Sandals?”
“The Holy Mother didn’t raise no fool!” Jesus answers.
“Where did you get them?”
“From this ad in the Galilee Gazette.”
Jesus pulls out a scrap of paper bearing the advertisement. The heading reads – “Secret Pocket Sandals”. It shows a picture of Noah, David and Moses, all smiling broadly while pulling up their robes and pointing to their sandals.
Beneath the picture “Get your sandal for only three easy payments of 19.95 drachmas plus postage and handling. But wait – get a second sandal free while this offer lasts. Just pay separate postage and handling”
At the bottom of the ad – “Secret Pocket Sandals – TM – All our sandals are made right here in Galilee by Jews for Jews- Call now – HIDYURSHIT (443-987-7448)”
The Wedding Feast
Jesus and Gabriel continue walking and are passing by a VFW hall. A loud commotion is coming from the hall. They go in to investigate. A wedding reception is being held. The guests at the reception are shouting and waving their arms wildly.
“No más cerveza! Quieremos mas cerveza ahora!” echoes from the hall.
“What are they saying?”
“They said ‘No more beer! The beer ran out and it looks like the crowd is getting pretty rowdy.”
Jesus calls over the waiter.
“Bring me ten cases of Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water. No store brands!” he commands.
“Why can’t you use just any water Master?”
“Garbage in – garbage out!”
The waiter rushes into the kitchen. He and an assistant hurriedly return with the cases of water and place them on the table in front of Jesus.
Jesus closes his eyes, mutters to himself and waves his hands right over left above the cases of water. Several seconds pass and he opens his eyes. Ten cases of Yoo-hoo lay on the table before him.
The crowd begins to boo. Jesus looks with embarrassment at the transfigured beverages.
He turns to the waiter and says “Bring me ten cases of…”
Gabriel grabs his arm before he can finish.
“Wait a minute. You’re just a little rusty. What did you expect? You’ve been out of the miracle business for two thousand years. You need a little more practice to get the old mojo back.”
“What do you mean practice?” asks Jesus.
“You should have warmed up on some of the homeless we saw on the way here. You could have healed a few of the handicapped. You know what I mean, polish up some of your skills a bit.”
“You mean some of the lame we passed the lame?”
“They’re not lame. They’re handicapped. You don’t see any parking spaces labeled ‘Lame Only’ do you?” Gabriel chides him.
“No that’s true!” Jesus agrees.
“That’s because lame is old school! All the lame aren’t lame anymore’ now they’re all the ‘handicapped’.”
Jesus pauses and then muses out loud – “We need to send out a Bible update. Something like –
‘Then the eyes of the visually handicapped will be opened. And the ears of the auditory deficient will be unstopped. Then the ambulatory impaired will leap like a deer. And the tongue of the conversationally disadvantaged will shout for joy’.”
Jesus arouses from his musings and speaks.
“Oh, now, I remember. Water to Yoo-hoo is right over left. Water to beer is left over right” and he proceeds to close his eyes once again. This time he waves his hands palms up, right over left and the Yoo-hoo becomes water once again. Then once more, he closes his eyes, mutters and waves his hands palms down left over right. Loud applause and cheers rise from the crowd; Jesus opens his eyes to see ten cases of Bud Lite.
Suddenly, the doors of the kitchen springs open and the short chubby manager of the hall rushes toward Jesus waving a sheet of paper. He thrusts the paper in Jesus’s face and begin to shout angrily.
“Do you see this? This is the contract for the hall rental. What does it say right there? ‘No outside alcohol!’ Now get that Bud Lite out of here before I call the cops.”
Jesus looks closely at the contract.
“Gab – get over here.”
Gabriel rushes to Jesus’ side. Jesus points to the contract.
“Tell me what this says. It’s got all those funny looking letters. I think it’s Hebrew?”
Gabriel begins to read the contract aloud in English.
“This contract shall be …”
Twenty minutes pass and Gabriel is still reading. Jesus is sitting next to him with his feet up on a chair and his eyes half closed. The crowd is snoozing, yawning and snoring as Gabriel finally finishes reading of the contract.
“So sworn by me on this….”
Jesus opens his eyes, takes his feet off the chair, stands, and interrupts Gabriel in mid-sentence.
“So do we have to get rid of the beer or what?”
“I think the man’s right but I’ve got to read this last line on the bottom to be sure. Anybody got a microscope on them?” Gabriel answers.
“Never mind. This guy has an honest face and besides he’s Jewish so he probably remembers Proverbs 13:5.”
“The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves” quotes Jesus.
Then he turns to the manager and speaks.
“Now with all these sweaty people and the broken AC we certainly don’t need more stench in here, do we?”
“Correcto! Absolutamente!” agrees the manager.
Jesus turns back to the cases of beer, closes his eyes, waves his hands and the beer turns back into water. The crowd begins to boo.
“What are we going to do now?” cries Gabriel.
“No problemo my little amigo!”
Jesus reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a wad of cash. He stands before the group both arms raised, with the money in hand says
“Peace I say unto you. Look at the birds of the air, they neither toil nor reap yet their Father feeds them. Look at the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor spin yet their Father clothes them. Are you less than they in His eyes?”
Someone in crowd shouts, “What the hell does all that mean? “
“What it means, my son is – ‘Open bar’ – on me!” Jesus shouts back and the crowd roars.
Jesus hands the money to the manager and the crowd cheers jubilantly.
Suddenly, he Best Man in the wedding party rushes up to Jesus.
“Welcome. I am honored to behold un hombre of such great miracles. Please, let me introduce you to my sister and her new husband.”
After the introduction the Best Man calls Jesus aside and whispers.
“Did you notice my sister’s upper lip?”
“No. What do you mean?” Jesus asks.
“El bigote! The hair! It’s very hairy! Maybe you could help her out with the mostacho. Kinda like a wedding miracle. What do you think?”
Jesus stops and thinks. He then answers reluctantly.
“Well, it is her wedding day. Even Don Vito grants favors on wedding days. Okay!”
Jesus walks over to the bride and runs his finger over her upper lip.
“Si, mucho el bigote. Esto requerirá mucho trabajo.”
Jesus runs his finger over her upper lip several times and prays. The hair finally disappears.
Gabriel extends his hand out to the Best Man.
“That will be ten dollars please!”
The Best Man is completely surprised.
“Why ten dollars?”
“Cosmetic miracles come with a copay” answers Gabriel.