Monday, August 29, 2016

Addiction comes in every shape and size.

Most of you know that I am a computer gamer.   I have been since I was a young man.  My parents got our first computer when I was around eight years old.  I learned to program it in Basic.  Then we upgraded to a computer that had actual games on it!  I used to sit up all night playing.   Later in life I was so addicted to playing these games that I once told a friend "I don't care if the power and water get cut off, I am going to get the new expansion of that game!"  I did.   The power and water did get cut off... but I was content, I had my new game.   I chose games at that point in my life over everything else.   Work was a way to afford playing.   Sleep was a hindrance.

The readings for today remind us that the key to combating these sort of things is very simple.   It's not a magic pill.  It's not an overnight solution.   It's not an easy task.   What it is though is straightforward.  It is love.   God's love.  Not the love the world has to offer, but true love.   Love for God.  Love for life.  Love for truth.  Love for His Word.   Herod had tried to replace that love with the pleasures of life.   His desire for this young woman dancing caused him to make promises that he did not want to fulfill.  In the end they cost someone else their life.   Addiction has a way of doing that doesn't it?  Taking life?  Even in the less obvious way of taking a life that could be filled with joy, happiness, and the presence of others and replacing it with solitude, fear, and unhappiness.

Again, simplicity.   Being a disciple of Christ does not require that we have every Scripture passage memorized, or even a single one of them.   It doesn't require you to have a PhD or Master's degree in any sort of High Christology.   What it does require is effort.   It requires love.   It requires an honest examination of our life every day to see if we in anyway have replaced God with some addiction, some earthly thing.  Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us that there are four ways these manifest themselves, four spheres:  power, wealth, honor and pleasure.   Is there any desire in your life that goes before God?  So much so that you are willing to suffer for it, instead of for Him?   That's where we have to get our lives in gear.   To turn from whatever it is.  Sports, school, theater, friendships, work, the lottery, gambling, drinking, gossip... whatever the vice is, to turn from that to God... to put Him first and foremost in our lives and become the disciple we were meant to be.

On this Feast of Saint John the Baptist we are reminded of the simplicity of the message he delivered.  He did not come in fancy clothing.  He did not come wearing robes with fancy scrolls on the borders.   He did not come with long winded speeches to be recorded for posterity.   No, he came dressed in camel hair eating the things he could forage from nature.  A beggar on every outward appearance, but a man who relied solely on God.   A man who simply said "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."   A man who was willing to die for that faith and to stand up to those in power and say "No, what you are doing is wrong!" Jesus is that Kingdom.   He is present for you every day.  Alive and risen.  In the Sacraments, in the tabernacle.   Just waiting for you to come to Him and find true happiness.   Are you ready for that?

Are you doing your part to prepare the way for the coming of Christ into the lives of others?  Are you guiding their feet into the way of peace?

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease." 

A reflection on the readings for the Feast of Saint John the Baptist: August 29th, 2016