God sits upon his heavenly throne. He is bored. Jesus sits next to him, playing with his yarmulke.
"So, what are we gonna do today, Dad?" asks Jesus.
"I dunno. How's about healing a couple of folks?"
"Well, which ones? There are a lot of good people down there who are pretty sick."
God rubs his forehead. Decisions are difficult for him these days as he made a few bad ones when he created the world and there's been nothing but trouble ever since. And lately, whew! A whole bunch of morons are running around the world claiming to know what he wants, which is really funny, 'cause half the time even he isn't sure what he wants.
He does know, though, that he doesn't want a lot of what poses as "religion" on earth. He rubs his eyes, as if trying to erase what those omniscient orbs can't help seeing.
"Tell, you what," says God. "I kinda liked that Damien guy who arrived up here about 100 years ago. Do you remember him?"
"Yeah, wasn't he some Catholic missionary to the lepers on the island of Molokai? As I recall, he did some pretty good work for us. By the way, that's in Hawaii."
"I know where Molokai is. Jesus!" says God. "What I was going to say is that there's a retired teacher, Audrey Toguchi, who has been praying to him. She's got cancer bad. She hasn't been able to reach him, though, 'cause he's been playing golf on the Heavenly Fore course. Get Damien over here and tell him to do his stuff."
"Aw, Dad, you know what's gonna happen. That old pope is gonna get all excited and want to make Damien a saint, and you know he's not ready for that, yet. And if the pope gets his way we'll be inundated with prayers to Damien which means our communication system will jam again. And you know he needs at least another hundred years in saint school."
"That's OK. I'll handle Damien. I'll put him on the fast-track to sainthood so old Benedict doesn't get his shorts in a knot."
"All right," says Jesus. "I'll get Damien and you can zap him and he can heal Ms. Toguchi and the pope can make him a saint. But couldn't we have Saint Augustine do some of this leg work? I'm Jewish, remember, and don't even believe in saints!"
"Ah, c'mon. Do we have to go through all that stuff again! Go get Damien!"
Jesus did as he was told and Damien heard Audrey Toguchi when she prayed, "I put my whole faith in you. ... Father Damien, please pray for me, too, because I need your help." Thus, one month after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, doctors found the tumors had shrunk and within a year they had disappeared. Her doctors did not know what had happened, but they sure as heaven were surprised! One scientific-type person said it was a "complete and spontaneous regression of cancer."
The Vatican reviewed Audrey's case and found it "defied medical explanation." Seeing as how this was Damien's second miracle, which Pope Benedict approved on July 3, Damien could now be slated for sainthood and that process is underway. In fact, Audrey plans to travel to Rome for the canonization.
What the Vatican does not know is that saints in heaven have to work pretty hard because they get so many prayer requests. And when Damien's canonized, he will be a little miffed as he is sure to have to give up his golf game, or at least cut down the number of days he plays each week.
But I have strayed from my story.
A couple of years before Audrey discovered she had cancer, a fellow by name of Charles Staples, an attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia, found that he had a large, cancerous tumor behind his nasal cavity.
Here's how it all played out in heaven.
"Hey, Dad," Jesus calls, fiddling with his tzitzits. "We've got 3, 500,000 cancer patients praying to just about every saint up here and they're even praying to some that went, well, you know where...and a whole bunch are just plain praying - either to me or you.
"But, I think I've got someone we ought to take a closer look at. He seems sincere even if he doesn't know what he's talking about."
"Okay," says God. "Who is this sincere person?"
"His name is Charles Staples. He's a lawyer. I know, I know...but he's a pretty good guy in spite of that. And he's got a real problem. There's a tumor in his nasal cavity and the docs can't operate so they're gonna give him radiation and chemo, and you know how that fries the old brain!"
"So, why are you picking him out of the whole three and a half million?"
"I guess I feel sorry for him. He's one of those true believers and he's hooked up with that Pat Robertson nut, and .... well ...."
"You know, Son, you really have a soft spot. I wouldn't touch anyone who so much as listens to Robertson. He's caused us no end of trouble! He keeps preaching the end of the world stuff and gets people all het up and, hell, I don't even know when I'm gonna do that end-times thing!"
"I know, Dad, but this guy is OK and he's got a nice wife and he's got a lotta faith, even if it is sorta misplaced."
"All right, already. Do your schtick." says God. "I won't interfere. But do it yourself. I don't want some kooky saint getting involved. I'm omniscient, as you know, and I can foresee we're gonna have trouble with Father Damien after he heals that Hawaiian women in a couple of years. He'll be parading around heaven like he thinks he is me! That won't last long, of course, after I make his golf ball disappear a few times! ... Wait a minute! Isn't Staples the guy who was telling everyone he had actually talked to you?"
"That's the one," says Jesus, pulling his yarmulke down over his eyes. "He went around telling people that he'd had 'a real good talk with Jesus that day, in the car on the way to the hospital.' He even said that I was there, in the car! Then he said I said that I would never leave him nor forsake him - all he had to do was trust. You know I don't talk like that, and I haven't talked with a human since I said "Ciao" and flew up to be with you."
"Oh brother!" says God. "Pretty soon this guy will run for president and he'll be saying that I told him to invade Florida and I'm going to have enough of that crap when those American idiots elect George W. Bush!"
"C'mon, you can't be always worrying about the future. If you don't like it, change it! Anyway," says Jesus, "The doctors were pissing me off. They think they're God! So, I figured I'd throw them a curve. I told Charles (from my mind to his mind - I didn't actually ever talk with him - sheesh!) that he needed to rely on the Holy Spirit and not trust medicine and technology. I suggested, in my usual indomitable way, that all he needed was faith."
"That sounds rather juvenile, Jesus. You know we rely mostly on the doctors and their medical knowledge."
"I know, I know, but sometimes I can't help myself. Anyway, Charles got well without the medical treatments. The kicker is that a couple of years later he got cancer again--in his neck. The docs said he only had a 20 percent chance to live. So this time he opted for the treatments, but that made him so sick, he thought he'd rather die, so he "trusted in the Lord" and the cancer disappeared."
"You know," replies God, "I think I recall a little bit of that."
"You should, your Omniscience! I mean, I did all the work, and you got all the credit! Staples went around saying 'God is faithful. God healed me. God is a rewarder of faith. God's hands are full of miracles.' Please! I did it! Me! Jesus! Don't give me that God stuff!"
"Ah," says God, "you know you and me are the same. We're one. One for all and all for one. Which reminds me, where the hell is the Holy Spirit? She hasn't done a lick of work since she started fooling around with that Obama character! She thinks he's going to be president in about 10 years!"
If you wish to read the more mundane, earthly accounts about the healings of Ms. Toguchi and Mr. Staples, go here and here.