Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

“Look at you!” said Mary, holding her son Jesus’ bearded face between her hands. “All baptized now! What an event here at the river! Now come back to the house for matzah balls and fig cake. Everyone’s coming over to celebrate, even though I don’t have enough chairs. My son is a carpenter and I don’t have enough chairs. Go figure!”

“Thanks, Mom, but I can’t.”

“And tell your cousin John that when he’s finished baptizing everyone else today, there’s a bacon, locust and tomato sandwich waiting specially for him. He’s an odd one, but he’s fam—what did you say?”

“I can’t be there, Mom. The Holy Spirit is sending me right away on a mission.”

“A mission? What mission? It can wait until tomorrow. Today you need dry clothes and a plate of matzah balls.”

“Mother… it’s time. Time I began fulfilling my ultimate purpose. You remember what the angel told you way back when. And if I’m going to carry out the work the Father has for me, it has to begin this very minute.”

“Fig cake. Your favorite.”

“I love you, Mom. I’ll be back in forty days.”

“Forty days?? I could be dead by then! I will be dead by then—dead from dismay that my son didn’t show up at his own baptism party! Is this how you love your mother? And what’s so important you need to be gone for forty days?”

“Before I can begin my ministry, I have to be tested. I’m to undergo forty days of temptation by Satan, alone in the desert.”

“My baby!!”

“Mom, try not to worry. I can do this. I’ve been preparing for it all my life.”

“I’m going with you.”

“You can’t.”

“I’m your mother and I’ve been looking after you since you were a halo in my belly. I’m going with you.”

“Mom, I know you’ll always see me as your baby, but I’m thirty years old now. I have to leave the nest. This trial in the desert is for me alone.”

“You want to be tempted? Stay here and be tempted by Rebecca, the weaver’s daughter. I want grandchildren from you.”

“Mom, do you remember that time when I was ten and I bought you those roses for Mother’s Day?”

“How could I forget?”

“Do you remember how sad I was when I entered the house with them? I was so disappointed because I wanted to buy you a dozen roses but I could only afford half that many.”

“You were always the sweetest little lamb.”

“Do you recall what you did with those six roses?” Jesus smiled and took his mother’s hands in his.

Mary chuckled softly. “I do. I put them in a vase and then placed them on the mantelpiece in front of the mirror so there would be a reflection. ‘There,’ I said. ‘There’s my dozen roses.’”

Jesus wrapped his arms around her. “And just like you did with those half-dozen roses,” he said, “I have faith that God will do a similar thing with me in the wilderness. He will double my resolve, He will double my courage, He will double my desire to serve only Him.” Now he looked into her eyes. “I’m going to win. And then I’ll come home for awhile.” He smiled again. “See you in forty days.”

Mary’s heart ached with a mother’s unfathomable love. She knew she had to let him go. There was only one thing left to say.

“Are you wearing fresh underwear? If you get into a scuffle with Satan and he sees holes in your underwear, he’ll think ‘What kind of a mother does this boy have?’ I’ll be so embarrassed.”

“Matzah balls, Mom. I want a big plate of them when I get back.”

Cuyler Black