Galilaean Idol: The Search for the Mother of God
In 5 B.C., in accordance with the long-range plan, the chief executive officer of heaven, God, convened a meeting of heaven’s board of trustees.
“As you know, gentleangels,” God said, “we’re running out of years before Christ, and it’s time to set in motion the pre-production of our next big show, the Incarnation. The first thing to do is set a venue. Now you know my preference, but I’m going to commission a committee to study the proper place for man’s salvation to take place. Then, after we have reconvened, heard the report of the committee, and selected our venue, by 2 B.C. we need to begin casting calls for the Mother of God. Now I’m very sensitive about who it should be, so I want the process to be very thorough. That’s why we’re starting so early.”
The commission was selected, and it reported back to God that Jerusalem seemed to be the best place. There was some grumbling on the board that the result had been fixed, but Jerusalem was unanimously voted “the Future Scene of Man’s Redemption.” Delegates were sent to the city, and the city council unanimously adopted a resolution to adopt the new motto and advertising campaign, “Catch the Messianic Spirit: Jerusalem 2 B.C.: Future Scene of Man’s Redemption, brought to you by the Jerusalem City Council.”
Soon a casting call went out through all Judea and Galilaea and Samaria, for a Mother of God. Its text was as follows:
ISO Mother of God. No Experience Necessary. Advanced Degree a +. Should be willing to bear and raise a son, prepare him for messianic role. Interested parties provide letters of reference from at least three (3) religious leaders, demo tape of scripture recitations, recent photo. Due to scriptural constraints, WE ARE ONLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FROM VIRGINS AT THIS TIME.
Word swept through the land that redemption was at hand. Young women slept out overnight to be the first to receive applications, and families hired consultants to help their daughters put together the best possible portfolio. New companies sprouted up to satisfy the demand for scripture recitation classes, and plastic surgeons had to work overtime carving up noses into the newly fashionable Hellenistic style. Rabbis received innumerable invitations to dinner, and on the way out were slapped with the dreaded recommendation form. The papers reported that all the Holy Land was in the grip of “Mother of God Fever.”
After reading through tens of thousands of applications, the selection committee sent out its first thousand invitations, asking the first group of young women to assemble at Eleutheropolis.
As Michael and Raphael, who were in charge of the committee, arrived at the casting call, they were shocked to find the facility mobbed. They had told the contestants to arrive at staggered times, but all had come as early as they could, so as not to lose any competitive advantage. As the archangels walked past the roped-off groups of young women, the women pushed to the edge of the rope, shouting strange phrases which would be remembered, batting their eyelashes at the archangels, one young girl even opened her robe to reveal her pendulous breasts, which “could satisfy a young Messiah.” Michael and Raphael were glad to duck into the building, to be free of the noise and racket.
“This is going to be a long process,” Raphael said.
“We’ll have to steel ourselves for it, that’s all,” Michael said. “What I want to know is how we ended up with this job. What the heaven is Gabriel doing?”
“Hey look, it doesn’t make any sense to complain,” Raphael said. “It’s crystal clear. God made me. God asks me to do something, I do it. I was just observing that it will be a long process.”
From the first Eleutheropolis session, they came up with forty who would be invited to the next round. They then set out for Jerusalem, which was even more mobbed, as many people had shown up who were not even invited, who had been disqualified already. Police had to be brought in to control the crowd. “Thousands vie for place in spiritual history of human race,” the papers reported. Again forty were selected to appear before the committee again later for an even more rigorous test of their fitness to bear the son of God.
After Jerusalem the angels headed for Samaria, and by this time there were only twelve months left before the expected event. “God wants us to select this woman by June, as he says he will only need six months for the gestation,” Michael said.
“Really?” Raphael said. “I thought the original plan was for the full nine.”
“I’m not going to reason it out,” Michael replied. “Those are the instructions, and I’m sticking to them.”
The pair arrived in Caesarea Philippi for the last of the four regional casting calls in March. They were surprised to find that the situation was worst of all there. Some leading candidates had been kidnapped by rival gangs which hoped to gain political power through a family tie with God. Young women were surrounded by bodyguards and thugs. Since it was the last general casting call, people who had been rejected in previous calls came, thinking it was their last chance. Rejected girls bought the places of girls who had been invited, and girls who had been invited bribed other girls to stay home. The streets of Caesarea Philippi were crawling with people, chanting for their favorite candidates. The crowds threatened the archangels as they passed to the audience hall.
“I should just take out my sword right now and mow them all down!” Michael exclaimed with his usual hot temper.
“Now, now,” Raphael admonished, “everyone in heaven admits we have a problem here on earth. We’re trying to do something about it right now. We’re going to teach these people the values of meekness, self-sacrifice, humility, and love.”
“Well, you tell me how the heaven God is going to do this by having a giant competition. It brings out the worst in people. Everyone here is out to glorify themselves, not God.”
“Michael, you’re not being like yourself. We have our instructions, let’s follow them.”
“I tell you, I liked the first part of the long-range plan. We’d tell these folks that there was going to be a big prophet-roast for Baal, and I’d show up and just mow ‘em down. Now that was the old-time religion.”
“Well, I’m afraid the first part of the long-range plan is done. We have our instructions, let’s get to work.”
And at that moment up in heaven God nodded to Gabriel, who came streaming down from heaven. It was indeed as if all Galilee had been emptied into Caesarea Philippi. As Gabriel passed through the towns of Galilee, he found them mostly empty, save for a few old people who could not make the journey, and some businessmen who would not leave their businesses, and these people came up to him as he passed through the streets, asking him if he had any news about “this Mother of God business.” He told them that if they waited patiently, he was sure they would hear. And on his journey he peered in to the windows, and saw the scattered families and individuals who prayed not for greater honors, but to be worthy of those they had already received. And in the town of Nazareth he came to the house of Joachim, whose daughter was the only young virgin left in the entire town. And he came into her room as she read the verse, “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” and knelt before her.
“Hail, Mary,” he spoke softly, “full of grace; the Lord is with thee!”