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Mary and Joseph Talk to Jesus About His Future
by William Kitcher

Much to Mary’s chagrin, Joseph was sanding a chair in the living room, getting wood shavings all over the new carpet, when the door opened and closed, and Jesus came home.
Mary looked up and squinted. “Is that you, Jesus? I can’t see you very well because of my cataracts.”
“Yes, Mother, it is I.”
“So, did you get a job?”
“Mother, I was preaching.”
“About what? You don’t know anything, you lazy good-for-nothing. It’s time for you to get a real job. So you’d better get a haircut and shave that beard off. Do you know what you look like? Do you know what the Cohens next door say about you?”
“I don’t care what they say. Izzy Cohen smells like a bagel factory.”
“Look, your father taught you to be a carpenter. So you’d better start carpentering.”
Joseph started to squirm.
Jesus and his mother had had this conversation before but he persisted. “I have a greater purpose in life.”
“Oh, hanging out with your friends all the time. You’re over thirty, for heaven’s sake, and all you’ve ever done is backpack around Europe. When your father—”
Joseph stopped his sanding for a moment. “I told you. I’m not his father.”
Mary yelled, “Don’t start that again! The Holy Spirit in the middle of the night, my eye. You were drunk.” She turned her attention back to her son. “When your father was your age, he’d been working for twenty years. He quit prep school to get a job to help out his family. I don’t know what’s the matter with you and the younger generation.”
Jesus was exasperated. “They just need to be led. And I’m the person to lead them.”
“Oh, you great leader you. Leading a flock of sheep like those twelve boys you’re always with.”
“They’re my disciples.”
Mary guffawed. “Disciples! Oh, Mister High and Mighty, aren’t you special. And by the way, didn’t you know thirteen was unlucky?”
“They’re my friends.”
Mary snorted. “Friends. Bunch of hippies if you ask me. And I don’t trust that Judas boy. Iscariot. What kind of a name is that anyway? Is that Ukrainian?”
Joseph’s patience was wearing thin. “Mary, Mary, so contrary. Stop crucifying the boy.”
Mary ignored the remark. She was on one of her usual rolls. “And what about that Simon? Or Peter, whatever the heck his name is. What’s his name anyway?”
“His name is Simon, and we call him Peter.”
“No idea.”
“You kids are so flaky. And you’re so exclusive. What happened to your old friends? What is wrong with you that you don’t like Kyle and Todd and Bradley anymore?”
“They just don’t seem to be the disciple type. Todd the Disciple?”
Joseph was getting tired all of this. “And I’ll tell you, young man, you have to stop being seen with just boys. People are talking.”
“Let them talk.”
“Washing their feet. Do you know what that means to the Pharisees and the Zealots?”
Mary pleaded with Jesus. “At least get some female friends to be with you some of the time so you don’t look like a bunch of whoopsies. What about that very nice Mary Magdalene? She’s a nice Jewish girl, and comes from a very nice Jewish family.”
Jesus gazed into space. “I love her very much.”
“She’s a tramp!” exclaimed Joseph.
Mary turned to her husband. “You! Shut up!”
Joseph was not to be denied. “She’s given so many boys gonorrhea they call her ‘The Burning Bush’.”
Mary was livid. “Shut it! The fact that our boy here likes any girl is a good start. So, why don’t you settle down, get married, have a family, make us a bubbie and zaidie?”
“I choose to be a preacher,” Jesus said, nobly. “I want to promote peace.”
“Peace,” Joseph harrumphed, raising his fist. “I’ll give you a piece of this.”
“And love. I want to promote love.”
Joseph got up in Jesus’ grill. “Who’s putting all this nonsense into your head? It’s those two brothers. James and John, those fairies, sons of Zebedee Steinberg. Never did like the way he buttoned up his shirt.”
“I have a special gift. I can create miracles.”
Joseph considered this. “We do always seem to have a lot of wine. By the way, where’s the Perrier?”
“And I have a special talent with loaves and fishes.”
Joseph wagged his finger. “You steal it, don’t you? Stealing wine and bread and fish and chips. The Romans are going to catch up with you and your gang of light-fingered and light-loafered friends.”
“We don’t steal. We don’t believe in ownership.”
“You filthy commie!” exploded Joseph.
“I can create miracles. I walked on water. Everyone saw me walk on water.”
“It was ice, you dimwit!” said Mary. “There’s a big difference between water and ice. You nimrod.”
“I brought Lazarus back from the dead.”
“He was sleeping and you woke him up! Bringing him back from the dead. Really. Thou shalt not lie. Do you remember that one?”
“That’s not one of the commandments.”
“Oh really, Mr. Biblical Scholar. Then tell us what the six commandments are.”
“But I can create miracles. Let me show you.”
Mary shook her head. “Jesus Hiram Christ, if this is another one of your party tricks—”
“Mother, I’m going to cure you of your cataracts.”
“Oh God.”
“Yes, possibly. Father, stand behind Mother.”
Joseph did so as Jesus put his hands on Mary’s head and began to chant. “Heal the eyes. Heal the eyes. Heal the eyes.”

Mary was skeptical. Suddenly, Jesus hit Mary in the forehead with the palm of his hand, and she fell back into Joseph’s arms. She was unconscious for a few moments. Jesus was very pleased with himself. Finally, Mary woke up and shook her head.
“Can you see better now, Mother? Have your cataracts gone?”
“No, they haven’t gone! And now I have a headache! Did you see how your son hit me?!”
“He’s not my son—”
“Shut up! All right, that’s it. You leave right now and go look for a job. There’s a new Roman leader in town, a very nice man named Pontius Pilate. You ask him for a job or I’m washing my hands of you. And then you come home right after and pack because we’re going to Calvary for Easter.”