Our first reading today from the book of Hebrews begins; "The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account."
The word spoken of here can refer to the Sacred Scriptures, the written word of God or it can refer to the Word, the second person of the Trinity, made flesh in Jesus Christ.
The penetrating power of the word/Word, is capable of doing a lot more than giving us a good facelift. We are talking about the grace of God getting in between the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. That is about as invasive a procedure as one can imagine. It is more than something created, because it can even get into the human soul.
Why is such a powerful spiritual anointing necessary? Because that is how deeply we can get wounded by our sins and the power of evil that swirls around us. We can mess up our lives in a royal fashion. The inner disorder and disorientation from God can be so overpowering that we need this "power greater than ourselves" to intervene.
All of us are prone to addictions of one sort or another. Some are mild and not too destructive, but others can get into the very fabric of our life and take control.
In his book, "Addiction and Grace", Gerald G. May, M.D. tells us that an addiction "uses up" our desire to love God and others.
"It is like a psychic malignancy, sucking our life energy into
specific obsessions and compulsions, leaving less and less
energy available for other people and other pursuits.
Spiritually, addiction is a deep-seated form of idolatry. The
objects of our addictions become our false gods. These are
what we worship, attend to, where we give our time and
energy, "instead of love". Addiction, then, displaces and
supplants God’s love as the source and object of our deepest
true desire. It is, as one modern spiritual writer has called it,
a "counterfeit of religious presence."
The word/Word of God can get to the heart of this woundedness, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow and heal addictions and make us whole. Often, with great fear and trepidation, we must invite Jesus into these dark and powerful areas of our lives. Jesus was able to take Levi, a tax collector, and turn him into one of his Apostles, Matthew. To penetrate between his soul and spirit, Jesus went to Levi and his tax-collecting friends and shared a very intimate and vulnerable moment with them. He ate a meal with them. Jesus will join us in meeting our addictions head-on and help us to conquer them.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Detroit, Michigan. His primary ministry is preaching parish missions and retreats.