Jesus on Flying out of Newark

Okay, palate cleanser — have a laugh courtesy of Father Jim Martin, who knows how to be light of heart! I love this:

On a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I started to wonder : What would it have been like for Jesus and the disciples to deal with the stresses and strains of air travel?

1 Immediately Jesus left for Galilee with his disciples, via Newark. For their vacation in New York was finished; and they had spent all that they had on Broadway shows, including “The Book of Mormon.” 2 “Lord,” said the disciples, “Why must we go to Newark and not JFK? For we long to fly JetBlue and earn miles.” 3”Amen, amen,” said Jesus, “The one who does not fly JetBlue is like a fool who builds his house on sand or some other similarly viscous substance upon which one should not build houses. JetBlue has comfortable seats and free movies. Not even the birds of the air have that. 4 Unless, of course, you’re going to the Holy Land, where JetBlue does not yet go. In that case, all should take Continental from Newark to Tel Aviv. Let those who have ears listen!” 5 It was now the first watch of the night.

6 When they arrived in Newark, Jesus and the disciples approached the curbside check-in. 7 For Jesus knew that there would be great multitudes inside the terminal, who would be like sheep without a shepherd. 8 The disciples paid two talents to check their extra bags, and they grieved the loss of their money. “Does not a day have twenty-four hours?” said Philip to the baggage centurion. “And does not a ticket price include baggage?” But the centurion pressed them to pay, not including a drachma for the tip. And the disciples grew angrier. The man asked Jesus, “Have you no bags to check?” 9 Jesus answered him, “Carry no money belt, no bag and no shoes for your journey!” 10 The man was amazed and said, “Truly, you are a frequent flyer!” Immediately the disciples and Jesus entered the waiting area, and all waited to board the plane. For it was now time.

2 In the second watch of the night, the Continental herald proclaimed the good news of the boarding. But she announced only the high numbers. “Teacher,” said Thomas, “Why aren’t we boarding first? Do we not have those seats in the front of the plane?” 2 Jesus said, “Those in the back will board before we do. For the last shall be first.”

Read it all; it’s pretty clever.

We live in really serious, stressful times. It’s important to laugh, and many of the saints knew that, and while the gospels are not explicit about it, I suspect Jesus had a good sense of humor, too:

I love the sort of loving, semitic and word-based humor on display in scripture. In Matthew, Chapter 14, Simon and Andrew — probably nagging at each other as they cast their nets into the sea — needed only one phrase to drop their nets and follow him, and the phrase was a dandy, “Heh. Hey fishermen…follow me; I’ll make you fishers of men!” … and can’t you just envision Jesus throwing back his head in good-humored appreciation when – a chapter later – a Canaanite woman bests him, answering his challenge with one of her own:

He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”

Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Martin’s book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life explores the place of humor in faith, and it seems to me we need the reminder. How can we be so grim, when we have the Good News? How can we allow the passing furies of the passing ages throw us into dolors when we already have hope of Eternity?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Greta

    OK, I’m old and probably old fashioned. I admit it. But somehow this kind of smacks of using the Lords name in vain. I try to nod my head whenever I use the name Jesus. To see a priest do this to make a humorous story kind of irks me. I suspect that Jesus also loved a good laugh and was fun to be around.

    In the Passion of the Christ, I loved it when Jesus was making the table and trying to show Mary how they would use the table sitting in chairs…

    Note a big deal I guess, but for me, I like to see humor not using the name of Jesus and or to kind of poke fun around His mission to evangelize the world…

  • Kevin

    Yea the JetBlue thing didn’t do much for me. But Jesus did display great wit. You can almost hear the comic exasperation in such sayings as ‘God made the sabbath for man, not man for the sabbath.’

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    The piece is great and the book is great – and that is not meant to be funny, simply true.

    If joy is not at the heart of the Gospel for Catholics in particular, then what on earth are we doing here? There are plenty of other denominations more suited to the permanently serious. That is not to say that we don’t have serious and reverent elements at the heart of our faith, but like life, without joy, it would be a dry wasteland with no redemption if you ask me.

    Last night I gave a talk about the saints at my work parish – and quoted Fr. Martin and his new book heavily.

  • Deacon Norb

    Whenever anyone asks me about Jesus of Nazareth’s sense of humor, I always cite the story of the “Man Born Blind” from the Gospel of John. In fact, twice now, parishes in my area have asked me to do a Lenten Program on that gospel passage. I call it “A Night at the Jerusalem Comedy Club” and drag folks out of the audience to mime the parts. Having XXI century Christians run around in circles pretending they are Scribes and Pharisees and shouting “He’s a Sinner! He’s a Sinner”; and making sure my guy portraying Jesus just watches in silent amazement; can be a genuine hoot!

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    @Deacon Norb – I love that!

  • kevin

    It is a mystery why the gospels do not record Jesus ever laughing. We know that he wept, groaned, and cried.

    I know Father Martin likes to make fun of how grim sounding people are at mass, kind of mumbling responses in low monotones, but personally I’ve never found this to equate to a lack of sense of humor on the part of the participants. My uncle is a man who is almost constantly in good spirits, cracking jokes, telling funny stories, but when he is in church, he is dead serious, head bowed, hands folded when he goes to communion. This has always impressed and inspired me.

    So I just wouldn’t overstate this case that Catholics today are allegedly humorless or joyless. Stressed out, yeah. Anxious, yes.

  • Michael

    There are several places where the humor is implicit. For example, why would one “…light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket” (Matt 5:15), wouldn’t that mimic a scene right out of a Marx Brothers’ movie? Or Christ renaming Simon to Peter (Matt. 16:18) AFTER Peter’s sinking like a “rock” (Matt. 14:30) must have gotten a couple of Apostles snickering.