By Jim Heffernan
I had a strange dream the other night. It involved the second coming – at least the second coming as far as my religious traditions are concerned. I wouldn’t want to offend anybody for whom it would be the first coming, or no coming at all, but the second coming is a pretty big deal for people who have been brought up in the Christian tradition.
Anyway, in my strange dream, Jesus shows up in our midst looking pretty much the way he always has – beige robe, shoulder-length hair parted in the middle, small beard.
Of course his arrival is greeted with great joy by the millions of his followers worldwide. Many television evangelists were in their glory (aren’t they always?), all of them agreeing on one “pool” message: “We told you so.”
The savior wasted no time in getting right down to the business of saving the world, which is his job. But, like the last time he was on Earth, he needed a little help from, well, call them what you will, a group of disciples or, in more modern terminology, a cabinet. This isn’t the year 30 A.D., you know. Disciples is so First Century. Same with apostles.
Good thing, though, that the original disciples, 11 of whom went on to become saints, were still around heaven, ready at the beck and call of their master, when needed.
So the master got right down to work, making a series of announcements concerning whom he would enlist as his “first team” to help him with his mission.
Wasting no time, he immediately announced that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would return, serving on his cabinet.
The announcement elicited great excitement at first, but it wasn’t long before some of the TV preachers and others, together with leaders of the great Christian religions, began to grouse and complain.
Many said they expected great change from the second coming and wondered in interviews with the New York Times why the savior was bringing back old names from his first, well, for lack of a better term, administration.
“Peter? Sure, he’s got his own basilica in Rome now, but he didn’t exactly cover himself with glory last time with his denials,” one eminent clergyman told the Times. The clergyman was granted anonymity because he is quite aged and does not want to jeopardize his own admittance into heaven when his time comes.
The biblical quartet of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, while acknowledged to be saintly and able writers and evangelists, are “warmed-over saints,” said the bishop of St. Petersburg. “We need fresh faces, fresh ideas around the returned leader if we are going to get the change he promises,” the bishop went on.
Concerns were expressed also that Paul, while not a member of the original 12, (Judas? Forget about him – won’t be back) might be attacked by terrorists if he tried to journey down the road to Damascus.
Still, as each day passed, the master named more of the old guard to his inner circle – including Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, James and James (the lesser but still in the fold) – and his followers on Earth grew increasingly frustrated with his choices. Billy Graham withheld comment.
Finally, Jesus ascended to a mount to defend his choices, saying, “I am change.”
I wanted to hear more, but I woke up. Crazy dream, huh? You wonder where these things come from.