Word Magazine February 1985 Page 20
“WHERE CAN YOU HIDE?”
Homily By Father James C. Meena
There was an announcement made not long ago, stating that the government has found that smoking marijuana is “less harmful than the use of alcohol and cigarettes”. There was a great sound and fury made by those who diametrically oppose the use of marijuana under any conditions. I’d like to present another point of view, a Pastoral one, I trust.
The indiscriminate use of any drugs, whether harmful or not, must be placed in the same category with all things having the capacity to alter the personality so that one loses control of behavior. Those who insist on using such methods to turn their minds off or on, to drop out of reality and into some misty existence, only fool themselves into thinking that escapism is going to solve their problem.
We choose various forms of escapism. Some people drink excessively thinking they can crawl into a bottle and pull the cork in after them. As soon as they are sober the problems from which they are trying to escape are still there and sometimes they are worse. The use of hallucinogenic drugs is no different, whether or not they are harmful to the body is not relevant in my point of view. The very fact that they are used to escape, that even one “Joint” has the potential to alter the personality and change the characteristics of the individual, means that they should be rejected out of hand as being totally inconsistent with the Christian way of life.
People have been using such escapist techniques for centuries. The excessive use of wine and distilled alcoholic beverages, even the use of herb drugs has been known to mankind for hundreds of years and is repeatedly condemned by Scripture. Noah discovered wine and innocently drank too much. He became drunk and fell into a stupor. His son, Ham, mocked him, because of his drunkenness but Shem and Japheth covered their Father’s nakedness. Even though Noah didn’t know that the excessive drinking of wine would so alter his personality that he would be derided by Ham, the consequences were unremitting, (Genesis, 9:20-28).
How can you run away from God? You cannot escape His wrath, His retribution, His law of averages. The only things from which you can run are His love and His mercy, and that by your free choice.
When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they ran and hid thinking that they could somehow be inconspicuous when God walked through the garden in the cool of the day. Jonah first refused to obey God but he finally realized that he was God’s chosen one and he had to obey. David killed Uriah in order to hide his adultery but he could not hide from the face of God.
Judas Iscariot could not hide from the Face of God and you cannot, nor can I. No matter what opiates we may suck into our lungs or shove into our veins, we cannot escape from God nor from our responsibilities to one another as children of God.
Why do we seek approval from our Governments, with all of its corruption, to convince us that ‘pot smoking is less harmful than alcohol’? You will still damage yourself and risk changing that which God gave to you to make up the sum total of your personality; your talents are stultified when you drink excessively and when you take into your system any of these personality-changing drugs. You can’t run from the Face of God or from the realities of life. If you will turn and face the problems of life with faith, with devotion to Him and not look to artificial stimulants and depressants to solve your problems, you will find solutions for our problems.
Do this, and you will be like the Publican of Jesus’ Parable, (St. Luke 18:10-14). He had lived a life of corruption and exploitation, had taken advantage of his own people, and had given himself to the conquerors like a prostitute gives herself to anyone paying her price, stood before the altar of God, knew he could not hide from the Face of God and did not even dare to lift up his eyes. He didn’t run to a wine bottle. He didn’t go out and find some herb root to chew on that would sedate his feelings. But he faced up to the realities of his own sinfulness and he asked God to help him to overcome that sinfulness by His mercy. That’s precisely what we are called upon to do.