16th August 2013

Using Water not Petrol to Put Out a Fire

In a recent report carried by CNN, this is how Howard Samuel, an addiction expert, describes the proposal to legalise marijuana: ‘using gasoline to put out a fire’. Samuel argues his case convincingly even from a scientific point of view.

There are also strong moral and spiritual grounds to be considered when speaking about the abuse of soft and hard drugs, alcohol and sex because they all point to a deeper reality: a craving for fulfilment found deep down within the human soul. However such behaviour may momentarily gratify but in the end they leave us even more profoundly dissatisfied than before, spiritually dead and the experience of being caught in a trap which is hard to come out of at will.

It is nothing new really. Jesus tells us the story about a young man who demanded his share of his father’s inheritance and set off for a dissolute lifestyle in a ‘far away country’ (Luke 15: 11-31). Eventually harsh reality catches up with him but instead of returning to his father’s house, he does something that no Jewish guy would ever dream of doing: he goes to feed pigs on a farm. In other words, if we can borrow Howard Samuel’s statement, he tries to use gasoline to put out the fire by making a bad situation even worse.

He eventually comes to his senses and sets off home, once again experiencing the incredible love and mercy of his father who was waiting for him all along. This is what God is like. He is our Saviour who pursues us , who longs to forgive us and free us from the humanly and spiritually perilous consequences of what are euphemistically called ‘harmless fun’ and ‘recreational enjoyment’.

There is another way to live and innumerable people are discovering it. The experience of God’s grace is real though the process of healing may be challenging – but truly if the ‘Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36). He is the ‘Living Water’ that puts out the hazardous fire which consumes the human soul caught in the nightmare of addiction. It fills the deep recesses of the heart and enables us to embark on the journey to freedom with the help of prayer, the sacraments, the healing gifts of the Holy Spirit and the prayer and support of others and the Christian community.  Then the gasoline can be thrown away! Hope is restored.