Addicts & Wife Beaters
#Addicts&WifeBeaters is the Podcast for September 11, 2016. What is the modern day equivalent to Tax Collectors and Sinners? “Addicts & Wife Beaters” may just come as close. Who is worthy of God’s love? What does it mean to lose someone, something? Is there a God and does he love us? Listen to this podcast to find out.: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #LostCoin #LostSheep #Prodigal #Luke15 #Addiction #ParentsofAddicts #WifeBeaters #DomesticViolence #GodLovesYou
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For Listener Supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 9/11/2016 The 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 15:1-32.
In our home, as you enter the kitchen, which is the natural path from the front door and the side door from the garage, there is a little rectangular board I cut, routed, stained, and put hooks on for keys. I took so much time to make the key hooks because I am a mess when I lose my keys. Seriously, I took so much time because when I lose my keys, I constantly go over and over where I was the last time I remember having them. (My mother used to always start there and when I open my mouth to my children my mother comes out when they lose something). I trace my steps over and over, even if, after the umpteenth time, I still have not found them. In fact, I think it would be safe to say that I spend more time fretting, expending energy, and looking for my keys, than I do looking for drug addicts and domestic dispute participants.
I am thinking that in Western Culture, that drug addicts and domestic dispute participants would be the equivalent of tax-collectors and sinners in Jesus’ day. So, what we are seeing is that what Jesus is doing in Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke is something that is scandalous. He is hosting dinners with people who were outcasts and “bad influences”. It was scandalous then and it would probably be scandalous now. It should be scandalous.
It is scandalous because the scribes and Pharisees are following injunctions from all over Scripture to stay away from people who do evil or you will end up doing it yourself. St. Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company ruins good morals.”
We know this. It is the same advice we give to our children as they leave for school, “Stay away from the bad girl or the bad boy.” Indeed, when my son was in the first grade he came home and asked at the dinner table what “oral sex” was, and I am cleaning it up here. I did what any father in that situation would do: I asked questions. “Where did you learn this?” I asked. He said, “From some third graders on the play ground.” Indeed, bad company ruins good morals.
To push the point further, just ask people who have addicted children about their visceral reaction when certain people pick up their child in their car in front of the house. It is usually shrouded in great secrecy. The addict does not say anyone is coming. They sit in the room with everyone else as if they are going to be there all day. Then, out of nowhere it seems, a text message comes and the addict is out the door and into a waiting car. No one bothers to come to the door. No one is introduced as being a new friend. Just like steam or smoke blown by the wind, the addict and the “bad” friend are gone. All of this to the horror of the parents who have lost the child they cuddled, read to, listened to, taught to throw a ball or put in a pony-tail, or both. For many parents it is like a coin that rolls into the sewer grate, or a sheep that was stolen, not lost, but stolen by a thief in the middle of the night.
One mother, who had two addicted children, once said, “I used to think they would bring them home in a body bag.” Or the father who said, “the drug has become his god and he bows to it all day every day.” And I spend more time finding my keys than I do finding addicts in my community. These are the very people that Jesus not only ate with, but he HOSTED the dinner. He invited them to come. What a picture: Jesus at the table with drug addicts and spouse beaters.
It is all a viewpoint, a disposition of the heart. When God looks at his children, when he looks at us, he doesn’t see those who are to be avoided and those who are to be invited. He sees what the addicts’ parents see: a human being for whom something has taken over the Lord’s rightful place. It has become an obsession for them, something they cannot live without.
In many ways, I think faith is an addiction. We cannot live without the Father. We cannot live without the Son, nor without the Holy Spirit. We cannot live without serving him. No matter what the cost, it seems, we are willing to endure the strain of financial hardship, the loss of friends, or the estrangement of family. We even sell faith like it is an emotional high that will numb us to all of our problems, but that is false. What is true is that faith is trusting in Someone who is committed to us.
Look at these stories, for the protestants it ends with the lost coin parable, for the Catholics/Orthodox, it ends with the story of the prodigal returning to his Father. Yet, the constant is a God who is with us through our lost-ness. What is addicting is the commitment that God has to us, even when we reject him, even when everyone has abandoned us. He searches for us like a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a set of keys mistakenly not hung on their hook. He loves us through our ensnared relationships with people who are bad for us. He loves us through our bad choices, our petty jealousies, our addictions to things that keep us from seeing him in his rightful place and we in ours.
If we tackle this viewpoint in our hearts, then much should change. Addicts become human beings who need to be loved twice as much and criticized half as much. Our view of drug addicts, domestic dispute participants, religious people, the so called “good” people should change. We should see who the Father in heaven sees when we look at others and when we look into the mirror: children, loved from cradle to grave. He sits on the steps forgiving the past indiscretion if he could just have his child stop their behavior and come home. He is loving the religious, righteous, and good people continually. He is searching for us and then calling us to search for the sheep, the coins, and the keys.
It is a radical idea, a loving God, whose love is expressed in commitment to us. To what extent is it radical enough for us to accept His forgiving love for ourselves and then be willing to act out that same kind of love to others? Only you can answer that question. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2016.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian