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Jesus conquers fear of death by showing how much he loves us

        Announcer: Welcome to “My Escape from Babylon!” And now here’s your host, Burl Grundy! (applause from audience. Burl walks out onto television set and sits behind desk)

        Burl: Good evening ladies and gentlemen! You know, Mark Twain once said that “all religions issue bibles against Satan, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side.” Well, tonight, we’re going to. No, my first guest is not Old Scratch himself, but my guest is a really good friend with that cloven footed rascal. In fact, you might say, that Satan couldn’t do his work without my first guest. So please welcome…The Grim Reaper!

        (The Grim Reaper walks out onto the set and sits in the chair next to Burl’s desk. There’s a smattering of applause, a few hisses and boos. The Grim Reaper is dressed in the traditional hooded robe, and you cannot see his face. He carries a scythe.)

        Burl:  Is that a new scythe you got there, Mr. Reaper?

        The Grim Reaper (GR): Call me Grim, Burl. I’m a first-name-basis kinda guy.

        Burl:  Grim it is, Grim.

        GR:  Yeah, Burl, it is (holds out scythe).

        Burl:  Where’d you get it?

        GR:  Ace.

        Burl:  So tell me, Grim, how’s business?

        GR:  I hate Lent.

        Burl:  Not good for business, is it?

        GR:  Well, things slow down when they celebrate the birth of that (pause) man from Nazareth.

        Burl:  You mean the one that got away?

        GR:  Yeah, him. But after that I can hardly keep up, Burl. New Year’s, I’m talking.

        Burl: A real Black Friday, so to speak.

        GR:  Oh, yeah. You got your drunks, DUIs, STDs, Lonely Hearts, smack dealers, wife beaters and fornicators all with easy access to knives, guns, ropes, bricks, clubs and Draino. And let’s not forget all those bills that come due after New Year’s. People get mighty freaked out over such things. It’s easy pickins, Burl.

        Burl: But Lent?

        GR:  Killer, no pun intended.

        Burl:  I bet.

        GR:  I mean, come on! All that confessing and fasting, going to church, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and all that “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” How can I get any work done with all that? Give me a break!

        Burl:  Any one thing about Lent you particularly despise?

        GR:  There’s no fear in ‘em, Burl. Normally, when I pay a visit? They’re shaking in their boots. Some even cry for their mommies. But during Lent? Nobody’s afraid of me. That’s no fun.

        Burl: Why are they not afraid of you, Grim?

        GR:  My Enemy comforts them! Tells them how much he loves them. Tells them all their sins have been forgiven. Tells them he remembers their sins no more. Now you tell me: how can I frighten the old, the debilitated, the young and vulnerable if my Opponent keeps taking away my trump card?

        Burl:  Which is fear.

        GR:  Exactly.

        Burl:  Well, there’s always war.

        GR:  Boring! Too easy, Burl. Look, I don’t want to be completely shut out by my Opponent, but on the other hand I like a challenge.

        Burl:  Lent does end, you know.

        GR:  But it always comes back!

        Burl:  So what do ya have in mind, Grim?

        GR:  The ol’ stand by.

        Burl:  Sex?

        GR: (scoffs)  Hardly.

        Burl:  What, then?

        GR:  That old ploy of my master, Mr. Satan

        Burl:  Which is?

        GR:  Make ‘em believe Mr. Satan doesn’t exist.

        Burl:  Why’s that such a good ploy?

        GR:  Burl, do you pay attention to things that don’t exist?

        Burl:  Uh, no.

        GR:  That’s what I want all them (points his scythe at audience) to think, too. If they don’t believe, they’ll have no qualms about doing things that bring them my way.

        (music swells)

        Burl:  Well, that’s all the time we have for tonight! I want to thank my guest, The Grim Reaper, for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit us. Join us tomorrow night on “My Escape from Babylon” when we’ll have a chat with Ignorance and Want. Goodnight everybody!


        Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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