Friday, October 23, 2009

Jesus versus Vampires

Just the other day, I was rounding the corner of our church parking lot to head into daily Mass, when a Septa bus drove down the street. On the side of the bus was an ad for a TV series about vampires called "True Blood." There was a smiling, fanged young women lying beside a gruesome, lifeless young man. I thought of our culture’s increasing obsession with death, then turned and entered the church, looking towards the crucifix and the wounds of Christ. Hmmm, I thought, here's the True Blood, isn’t it? I’m “celebrating” another kind of death in the Body of Christ. I couldn't stop thinking that day of the parallels between the two images, both involving great violence. But which image holds real power? It was Jesus versus the Vampires. It seems the media is dripping with the lore of vampires, especially these days just before Halloween. Websites, books, video games… Years ago, we saw the success of TV shows like Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and now the more recent True Blood. There’s also the wildly popular Twilight series now turned movies. So what's the attraction? I think, at the end of the day, it's a twisted desire for the Eucharist.
The proper effect of the Eucharist is the transformation of man into God. 

 - St. Thomas Aquinas
Cloaked beneath the surface of vampire mythology is a desire for eternal life, which I would affirm. We all have an innate desire for Life to continue, to indeed flourish. And in fact, we want even more than that. “I wanna live forever! I wanna learn how to fly… high!” We want to lose ourselves in eternal realities, which are actually attributes of God: Life, Beauty, Truth, Immortality. We want a fountain of youth. We want a feast, the banquet so often imaged in the Bible. But when we’re unwilling to make the sacrifice of our lives in love for that gift (which is the key to all happiness and self-discovery) we degenerate into sacrificing others. Our love that's meant to go out in service is twisted to a lust that folds in and serves only me. Vampires are a greedy bunch. Rather than shed their blood in a total self-gift for others, like Jesus, they selfishly draw the very life-blood out of others. Vampires are not givers, they are takers. But he who grasps at his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake, will find it…. and with it, life everlasting. When it comes to restoring us to that life again, it is Jesus alone who gives us the True Blood, the Divine transfusion that alone can save us.
Originally published in the Catholic Standard and Times
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