Tonight I am at a bar. I took my nephew out to celebrate his birthday. We’re at an Indian casino. I haven’t gambled a penny. I’ve had a gin and tonic.
At the last minute, a friend jumped in on our plans. Not usually a problem but this friend has a problem. Actually; this friend has two problems. Drinking and gambling. This is actually a setup for tomorrows post so bear with me. Otherwise it will make more sense then.
I’ve dealt with alcoholics. It seems one gift God bestowed on me is a sense of compassion. I hate to see others suffer and believe me, being a drunk is clearly a form of suffering – very often for more than just the drunk.
And this is not a post about alcohol. Not tonight. Again, tomorrow will make more sense.
But this got me thinking of sin. You see, I’ve come to realize that this friend is an inveterate drunk. He shows no sign of wanting to turn it around. Doesn’t go to meetings. Thinks everything is fine. This is probably because he’s charmed so many people into giving him second chances. And third. And fourth.
I’m contemplating leaving him here, an hour from home, to figure it out on his own. But two things prevent me. 1) I’m actually not that cruel. 2) I might be crossing into hypocrite territory. You see, I believe I’ve been inveterate in my own sins throughout my life. I am certain that I have, on more than one occasion, walked out of confession positive I was golden only to give in to the same sins with such fascinating weakness. By the grace of God; I have been learning and fighting, and resigning myself to God’s grace more ardently now than I ever have. There’s always a ways to tarry. I attribute much of that strengthening to tradition. In the past few years I have come to hear – finally and clearly – what the Church has always taught about sin and forgiveness and the role of the sinner in a thing called a truly firm purpose of amendment.
And I thank God. And I will help my friend (keeping in mind that the best help sometimes does involve letting a man hit rock bottom before he can reach out for the help).
So tonight, think about what “inveterates” you. Turned it into a verb, sorry. I believe the /a/ needs to be long now. Either way, whatever your sins, make the purpose firm to change your life. Sometimes, as a wise priest once proclaimed in a sermon I heard, “How many times do any of us really call upon the Sacred Name of Jesus in our moments of temptation? Because He promised always to help those who call upon Him…”
Stay confessed my friends, and say a prayer for my buddy.
Lord Jesus, hope of sinners, have mercy on us!