Revelation 22:1-7
Luke 21:34-36

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
Luke 21:34

Jesus was quite aware of our weakened human mental map. He knows that it is the “anxieties of daily life” that lead us to “drunkenness”. He knows that drunkenness leads us to being “drowsy”. And he knows, as do we all, that we don’t need a fine – or even cheap – liquor to to get there. How much did you sleep after that huge meal on Thursday? Ever had sex because you couldn’t sleep? I started heavily smoking when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident: from there it was a pack a day for nearly 25 years. Lately I’ve been overeating and putting on weight because I am unemployed. The anxieties of daily life are a rough battle and meds, man, meds are everywhere to help.

Sex, Wine, all the joys and blessings of this life, have their proper uses: teetotalling is a drug, too. But our purpose in experiencing life – pain, sorrow, bumpy bits, rough bits, rock bottom bits – is to work out our salvation. Jesus knows that we can use “carousing” and “drunkenness” to miss our chances to work out our salvation. It’s just too hard, too rough, too difficult… which may be really what God knows you need.

God on the cross refused painkillers (vinegar and gall). We will kill ourselves figuratively – or literally – to avoid pain.

The solution to sleeping trouble is nearly never simply taking a sleeping pill: a sleeping problem usually means there’s something going on in one’s life, or body, that needs addressing. Most of us are willing to settle for keeping our eyes medically sealed for 6-8 hours. We’ll let our lives burn down as long as we can pretend to sleep through it.

We take drugs just because they exist. Really. Someone invents a drug and finds out what it does – and then creates – and markets – a medical name for the thing it undoes. It’s to be noted that nearly all drugs only cure symptoms. We are quite happy living in a high-stress environment as long as we don’t feel the stress.

We fail to understand the divine purpose of pain, of discomfort, of sadness, of sorrow. If it makes us sad, we decide it’s evil. We run away from things that make us “feel bad” and towards things that make us “feel good”. Very quickly that can lead to addiction. It’s the definition of sin becoming a passion. Over and over we do what makes us feel good until that’s all we do, even if it’s not good for us. We shop. We sex. We porn. We self-pleasure. We gamble. We ride roller coasters and thrill seek. We do anything at all, to “Feel good”. We will take anything. We’ve become a culture of drugs, OTC and prescription, both doctor- and self-prescribed. We are a culture of addicts.

Yesterday, before I knew about today’s readings, I read an article on Al Jazeera, being a history of Drug Use in war.

What we need is also a history of the Drug War being fought on civilians: pain killers, psych meds, hormonal pills that stave off various parts and stages of life. We seek to control the beginning and end of life itself. We are trained to take pills, to try and be “euphoric”, to be “our best”, to “stay happy” and to only participate fully in normal life when we feel like it. We turn natural life into a “medical condition” so we can make a use for the latest drug. (Eg: there was never a restless leg syndrome, no doctor ever talked about it until we invented a drug that cured it, and fell for the marketing.) Following our training, we self-medicate with just about everything from food to sex. And we will file lawsuits, change laws, and even riot to get what we want when we want it. We will even change our body with a lifetime of daily doses chemicals the long-term, multigenerational effects of which we do not know, just to get what we want.

In the Rehab Clinic where I worked, we often “cured” an addiction to illegal drugs by transmuting it into an addiction to a legal drug. We taught the clients the problem was they were medicating to deal with problems that needed to be faced rather than forgotten; then we just gave them different meds. The only people living rich off my high blood pressure meds are pharmaceutical companies. All you need to do to make a fighter out of a housewife is change her meds – be that housewife in Mosul or Minneapolis.

It’s a trap! These things make us drowsy: enabling us to sleep through the most important things. Our society is creating a culture of drug-enablement: enabled to deny our feelings, to deny our sadness, to deny our sense of guilt. The faith of Christ is of a different sort.

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:36

If your strength comes from a drug… they can take it away from you. Vigilate. Be vigilant.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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