Life Is a Test

By Father Jerry Pokorsky | November 17, 2021 | 4:07pm EST

We often overlook a fundamental fact of life: every human life is a test of freedom and fidelity. God endows us with freedom, and we are not His slaves. He desires that we freely choose Him.

"A Nice Place to Visit" is an episode from the classic television series The Twilight Zone.

The episode first aired on CBS in 1960. The title comes from the cliché: "A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."

Producer Rod Serling introduces the story by describing its lead character, "Rocky" Valentine, as “a scared, angry little man. He thinks it's all over now, but he's wrong. For Rocky Valentine, it's just the beginning.”

After "Rocky" Valentine robs a pawn shop, police shoot and kill him in a gunfight as he tries to flee. He wakes up seemingly unharmed by the encounter. Pip, a genial elderly gent, greets him. Pip explains that he has been instructed to guide Rocky and give him whatever he desires. Rocky becomes suspicious, thinking that Pip is trying to swindle him. But Pip reveals that he knows detailed information about Rocky's tastes and hobbies. Rocky demands that Pip hand over his wallet. Pip says he does not carry one, but then gives Rocky $700 from his pocket and promises to give Rocky an endless supply of money.

Thinking that Pip is trying to entice him to commit a crime, Rocky holds him at gunpoint as the two travel to a luxurious apartment. Pip explains that the apartment, and everything in it, is free. Rocky starts to relax and changes into an expensive suit. However, when a meal is delivered, Rocky demands that Pip taste it first to prove that it is not poisoned. When Pip demurs -- claiming he has not eaten for centuries -- Rocky shoots him several times, but finds that his bullets have no effect. Rocky realizes that he, Rocky, is dead and concludes that he is in Heaven with Pip as his guardian angel. Pip says Rockly can have anything he wants, so Rocky asks for a million dollars and he gets it.

Rocky visits a casino with three ladies, winning every bet he makes while surrounded by beautiful people. Later, Rocky asks Pip if he can see some of his old friends who are also dead, but Pip says that this world is for Rocky alone. The others are illusions. When Rocky wonders what good deeds he could have done to gain Heaven, Pip takes him to visit the Hall of Records. When Rocky looks through his file and discovers that it only contains a list of his sins, he decides not to worry about it. Pip departs, saying that he can be reached by telephone as needed.

One month later, Rocky is bored with having his whims instantly satisfied. He wins every game at the casino, and the ladies defer to him and comply with every suggestion he makes. So, Rocky calls Pip and asks for a challenge in which he might run the risk of losing. Pip offers to arrange for him to lose once in a while at the casino. But, Rocky dismisses the idea as a predictable setup. The two discuss a bank robbery, but Rocky quickly abandons that idea as well, since a pre-planned outcome would take the thrill out of the crime.

Deciding that he will go crazy if he stays in Heaven any longer, he asks Pip to take him to "the other place.” Pip retorts, "Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This IS the other place!" Horrified, Rocky tries in vain to open the now-locked apartment door and escape his "paradise" as Pip laughs malevolently at his torment.

Rod Serling’s closing narrative: “A scared, angry little man who never got a break. Now he has everything he's ever wanted – and he's going to have to live with it for eternity – in The Twilight Zone.”

Imagine spending an eternity of selfishness, irreverence, arrogance, hatred of God, hatred of parents, hatred of human life, hatred of the way God made us – an eternity of pornography, lust, fornication, adultery, gay-sex, gluttony, envy, greed, bitter gossip, perpetual anger, and lies.

Imagine an eternity of virtue, generosity, Godly devotion, reverence, justice, chastity, love of life, kindness, mutual respect, joy, blessedness, and the vision of God.

We become what we freely choose. There is still time for mercy, repentance, and gracious generosity.

Life is a test.

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