Sarah surprised Maria and I last night by telling us that her friends had talked her in to going to Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights. Sarah has only watched a couple of scary movies in her life because she doesn't see why anyone would want to put themselves through the experience. She is admittedly giving in to peer pressure but has given her friends very specific instructions as to how they must surround her at all times throughout the night.
When I looked at the Universal website I was even more shocked to realize just how frightening this thing was going to be. I took a screen shot of the website so you could get a sense of just four of the nine "attractions."
We live in a culture where this type of thing has become commonplace. And it has desensitized many to the culture of death it represents. That is why this week's Gospel may not make the kind of impact Jesus made when He told the story:
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.' Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.' But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31
In our Walking Dead culture Jesus' story isn't very scary. But to the Pharisees it surely caught their attention. There are clearly those who go on to be with Father Abraham and those who will NEVER be with Him. Jesus is making the point to the rich man that by ignoring the needs of poor Lazarus and enjoying life for himself he will live forever in torment.
I don't see how we can soft sell the blunt message that Jesus has shared with the Pharisees. We have a choice as to where we will spend eternity. Is there anything more horrifying than being separated from our Father in heaven?