Christ­mas crime leaves city shaken

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Bob Wake­ham

“Here and Now” seems to have adopted a dis­con­cert­ing quota of main­land and in­ter­na­tional news items in its 60-minute nightly run. I’m talk­ing about non-New­found­land items that would have been deemed as des­per­a­tion pro­gram­ming moves back in the day — a jour­nal­is­tic crime — vi­o­lat­ing a phi­los­o­phy of be­ing un­abashedly and al­most ex­clu­sively lo­cal.

Still, there was at least one pro­vin­cial piece aired by the Mother Corp tele­vi­sion types dur­ing Christ­mas that I couldn’t get out of my head.

And that was the shock­ing theft of the Baby Je­sus from his sta­ble set­ting at Cor­pus Christi Church in St. John’s.

De­spi­ca­ble, it surely was. Down­right de­spi­ca­ble.

I wasn’t sure whether this star­tling event had re­ceived cov­er­age in other me­dia out­lets un­til my trusted source and re­lent­less re­searcher, Har­bour Deep Throat, sent me a copy of this story that ap­peared in a pub­li­ca­tion called The New­found­land Na­tiv­ity News:

***

PO­LICE ON THE LOOK­OUT FOR MISS­ING MES­SIAH

By Bob Be­atific Na­tiv­ity News Staff Re­porter

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—Wrapped in what of­fi­cials de­scribed as “swad­dling clothes,” an in­fant iden­ti­fied as Je­sus Christ was brazenly stolen from his makeshift crib in a leanto just out­side a lo­cal church in the west end of the city last night.

A spokes­woman for Church and State mat­ters, Const. Vic­to­ria Vi­sion, con­firmed for The Na­tiv­ity News that the Baby Je­sus — as he has be­come known over the cen­turies — was stolen in a so-called grab and run theft when his par­ents were dis­tracted while watch­ing re­runs of the in­spi­ra­tional pro­gram “Touched By An An­gel” on their gen­er­a­tor-pow­ered, four­inch tele­vi­sion set.

The mother, in­ex­pli­ca­bly called the “Vir­gin Mary,” de­spite hav­ing ob­vi­ously given birth to the miss­ing in­fant (a not-to-be-ques­tioned mir­a­cle, ac­cord­ing to re­li­gious dogma), was ob­vi­ously and un­der­stand­ably dis­traught when she met with a re­porter with The Na­tiv­ity News, her dis­tress ex­ac­er­bated by the fact that she was hav­ing dif­fi­culty try­ing to keep her bal­ance on an icy side­walk in front of the church.

It was thought ini­tially that Mary, who al­most went belly-up at one point, ac­tu­ally swore on the St. John’s city coun­cil — and Mayor Danny Breen, in par­tic­u­lar, but it turned out to be a mis­guided prayer of some sort (at least that was her spir­i­tual spin).

Once she had her foot­ing, Mother Mary was in­con­solable as she talked about the stolen child.

“His Fa­ther, his Fa­ther in Heaven, that is, had big plans for the Baby Je­sus,” Mary cried. “He was sent to Earth to atone for all of our sins — Muskrat Falls, for ex­am­ple. And in 33 years from now, he is to be cru­ci­fied in what will amount to a tor­tu­ous, bloody death that will even­tu­ally be made into a gra­tu­itously vi­o­lent movie by Mel Gib­son.”

Mary’s hus­band, Joseph, a rather non­de­script car­pen­ter to whom his­tory has never been par­tic­u­larly gen­er­ous — por­tray­ing him, as it has, as some­what of a mi­nor char­ac­ter in his mar­riage — seemed em­bar­rassed by his wife’s rev­e­la­tions that the son was des­tined for a hor­rific death at an early age, and that such a ter­ri­ble end of life was to be ap­plauded.

“I know I play sec­ond fid­dle in Je­sus’ life to the Heav­enly Fa­ther,” Joseph said, “but I still love the kid.”

Joseph had hoped the Baby Je­sus might join him in the car­pen­try busi­ness, and that they might make a small for­tune build­ing homes in Gal­way, a few miles away from the lean-to.

“I just got a grand present of a skill saw from Mary that she got on sale when Rona shut its doors,” Joseph lamented. “I hope he’ll be re­turned so’s I can show him how to use that tool with­out cut­ting off his thumbs be­fore he leaves to save the world.”

There were re­ports that three wise men had been seen ear­lier that evening near the sta­ble, but Const. Vi­sion said they were not sus­pects, and were asleep in their beds at the nearby Water­ford Hospi­tal when the crime took place.

So­cial me­dia, need­less to say, was in over­drive as word spread of the theft of the Baby Je­sus.

“Well, if he doesn’t re­turn, that’s at least one less mes­siah we have to deal with in New­found­land,” one com­men­ta­tor sar­cas­ti­cally noted. “The last mes­siah, St. Daniel of Town, de­liv­ered a $12-bil­lion pile of coal un­der ev­ery Christ­mas tree in the prov­ince.

“And we’re still pay­ing a for­tune for what the orig­i­nal New­found­land Mes­siah, St. Joseph of Gambo, gave us as a gift way back in ‘69.”

Oth­ers, though, felt the theft of the Baby Je­sus was dev­as­tat­ing, and wor­ried aloud what the bad pub­lic­ity would do to the Tourism Depart­ment’s sales pitch that New­found­lan­ders are the friendli­est peo­ple in the world; that there’s not an a***hole to be found any­where.

“This is noth­ing to be down­played,” wrote one. “And cer­tainly not to be blas­phemed by soul­less colum­nists.”

Crime Stop­pers has of­fered a re­ward for the re­turn of Baby Je­sus: an old record­ing of Gene Autry singing “O Lit­tle Town of Beth­le­hem.”

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