HOMILY EASTER SEASON WEEK 04 06 – Year II
The Prism of the Program
(Acts 13:44-52; Ps 98; Jn 14:7-14)
We can’t see light – we see by light. It takes a prism or a rainbow to refract light into the different colors that make up light, allowing us some glimpse into the beauty of light.
We can look at the readings today through the prism of the 12 Step program to get a glimpse of the beauty of our faith and how that faith undergirds our recovery from addiction.
The first reading tells us almost the whole city had gathered to hear the word of the Lord. That word of the Lord was not the Old Testament they were used to hearing. No – this was the good news of Jesus risen from the dead – something totally new the apostles were teaching. That can be compared to the newness of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous when it was first developed, and the impact it had eventually on whole communities such as Beauval, Canoe Narrows, Île-á-la Crosse and Pine House in northern Saskatchewan, to name a few.
The eternal life flowing from that word of the Lord, and the joy the apostles experienced, even after being rejected, can be compared to the new life of sobriety, joyous and free, that comes to those who truly work the program. That is just the opposite of the jealousy the religious leaders felt at seeing the crowds. They too needed the program, especially Steps 4 – 9 to help them receive forgiveness for their blasphemy, and healing for their awful character defects of jealousy and human insecurity.
The psalm proclaims all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. To be at a Worldwide AA convention and to know everyone there has a story of recovery from a fatal disease is to see with one’s own eyes that the salvation of sobriety and freedom from addiction has truly gone to the ends of the earth.
In the gospel, Jesus tells us to see him is to see the Father, who is our Higher Power and Creator. The more intimate relationship we have with Jesus, the more intimate relationship we have with our Higher Power and Creator. Step 11 speaks of this when it mentions “sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, seeking only the knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.”
Actually, to work the program is to experience the Exodus Journey and the Paschal Mystery in our lives – the steps will take us through them both to receiving forgiveness for all our wrong-doing, healing of all our defects of character, and reconciliation with all those we have hurt wherever possible.
Philip was involved in gang activity, incarcerated, had a conversion experience with the help of a prison chaplain, and began to work the 12 Step program. He returned to regular worship with a faith community, joined a service group, receives numerous Step five’s, and sponsors over two dozen fellow alcoholics. I went with him on a 12 Step call, and the way he got through to his fellow alcoholic, convinced him to go to the hospital, picked him up the next day, gave him lodging in his own home and put him through the program over the next three days, reminded me both of the early days of AA, and the early Christian community where no one was in need.
The Eucharist is above all a prayer of gratitude – the word itself means thanksgiving. As we ponder God’s word today, let us give thanks to God, our Higher Power and Creator, for the gift of the program and how it has led millions into a taste of eternal life as sobriety, joyous and free.