This is one of our favorite theological anecdotes. (Ellen Grady's, too. )
It actually takes place on a Holy Thursday, which is today.
It's 5 o'clock and St. Peter is wrapping it up for the day at the gates in Heaven. He checks in with God.
"Well, busy day," St. Peter says. "We were hoping to get out of here on time, with the holiday and all. Then, a minute ago, three guys show up from Brooklyn.
"They're wiseguys. Professional hitmen. Hundreds of murders. They're here because they were setting a bomb on a guy's car and it blew up on them.
"I think we can knock this one right out. Open-and-shut, straight consignment to Hell." He looks at his clipboard. "Any problem?"
God says, "Well, I understand you wanting to get home, with the big weekend, but I'm feeling especially merciful today, with Easter here.
"So, I tell you what let's do. Not to keep you too long, just ask these guys one question: 'What Is Easter?' If even one of them can I.D. it, he has an inkling of redemption, and we'll save their souls."
"You're the boss," says St. Peter.
St. Peter heads back to the gate, where the three guys are waiting. "Alright," he says, "you guys are getting a break like you wouldn't believe. If one of you can explain what the holiday of Easter is, you're all saved."
The first guy, Tony, steps forward. "Hey, I know what Easter is. It's a big holiday every winter. This big fat guy flies around the world in a cart with reindeers and gives out presents to the good little girls and boys."
"Wrong," says St. Peter.
The next guy, Fat Tony, steps up. "Hey, hold up, I know Easter. It's a holiday every summer, and everybody has hots dogs and hamburgers and lights off firecrackers."
"Sorry," says St. Peter.
"What are yous, nuts?," says the last guy, Big Fat Tony. "You're getting us killed here. I know what Easter is. They take a guy and nail him up on a big cross. Am I right?," he says.
"Keep going," says St. Peter.
"Yeah," says Big Fat Tony. "So the guy dies and they bury him in a cave. He stays in there three days. Then, on the third day, it turns out he's okay, and he comes out."
"Good," says St. Peter.
"Yeah," says Big Fat Tony. "He comes out of the cave, and he looks around. And then, if he don't see his shadow," ...
for Ithaca Blog