Today is the Feast Day of St. Mark, the author of the second Gospel. Also the shortest Gospel, can be read in one sitting.
From the Gospel of today’s Mass:
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
One easy and obvious take on this Gospel passage is that if believers can do all these things, well then certainly they can stay sober. Well, certainly, and that is the whole point of this blog. But a much deeper examination is called for and asks, “Why can believers do these things?”
The answer is: faith. Faith is belief in the unknowable, of things unseen by human eyes and instruments, and as the old hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas declares, “What our senses fail to fathom let us grasp with faith’s assent.” God is unknowable, at least by the limitations of human reason.
With faith we can bridge the chasm created by our fears, previously drowned in alcohol, and connect with the unseen God. Our faith tells us that He exists, and is there to aid us in being fully human. Alcohol robs us of the capacity to be fully human.
Faith is belief. You believe. An all-encompassing, marrow-tingling, world-view shaking life change. When a Christian believes, he or she just doesn’t (or shouldn’t) believe at the surface, a Christian allows that faith to make them new, different than before. An all-encompassing transfiguration from a person broken and beaten and used up by the world into someone born anew in Christ. This re-birth is sustained by the sacraments, from our baptismal renewal every time we use holy water, to our partaking of Holy Communion and Confession.
If we apply this to our recovery from alcohol abuse then we believe that we no longer need alcohol and exchange it for our love for Jesus. Faith in Jesus renders our need for alcohol to nothingness, and therefore our faith sustains us. No matter how good or how bad, drinking is no longer an option for us. It is no longer desired.
The passage “if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them”, I cannot explain as I am not a Biblical scholar, except that it probably isn’t to be interpreted literally, in much the same sense that one doesn’t actually pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin. It more than likely is a symbolism of Jesus’ victory over death, and how powerless the evils of the world are against Him. All who believe in Him will achieve eternal life with Him in Heaven. I felt the need to address that verse considering the focus of this blog.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"