“Half-measures avail us nothing,” are words spoken in Twelve-Step recovery that are meant to reveal the importance of keeping our recovery efforts on the front of our minds and actions. This day-at-a-time commitment to discovering a new way of life and maintaining it is no different than the converted Christian who is now armed with a new spiritual understanding and fellowship that will support them along their path.
In yet another set of parables, Christ sets a similar tone regarding the urgency of maintaining the treasure that God has freely given us. In this week’s Gospel reading, we hear:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
Both the Twelve Steps of addiction recovery and the Good News of Jesus Christ hinge upon some kind of “spiritual awakening.” In Catholic language, we sometimes refer to this conversion as “metanoia.” It can be very useful to reflect upon the circumstances that led to this conversion. For some, this awakening took place in a confined, miraculous moment. Others may have experienced a gradual progression of spiritual understanding. Regardless, it is not to be taken for granted and the new sight we’re given ought to be regularly re-focused. The parable of the buried treasure and the parable of the pearl diver share two very different routes to that conversion: one seems to be looking for it while the other may have just stumbled across a buried treasure. However, both recognize its value.
Have you recognized the value of the treasure God has placed in your life?
Addiction recovery focuses our efforts on what we can do today to participate in the grace that God provides us. In the first few days and weeks of sobriety, that grace reveals itself in staving off the nearly impossible temptation and urge to drink, use drugs, reach for pornography, go on an eating binge, make one more wager, or indulge in whatever type of addiction or attachment is your “drug of choice.” As the obsession to reach for that drug of choice fades and we begin arming ourselves with the armor of God, the day-at-a-time approach to recovery means that we ought to be practicing the principles gifted to us through the Twelve Steps and the sacraments on a daily basis.
Surrender, prayer, honesty, righting wrongs, and helping others is the formula used to maintain a newly-found God consciousness. What is God consciousness? Christ suggests it means selling all that you have to invest in a rare pearl that required some deep-diving to find. It can be understood as a heart that continues to desire interior conversion. Challenges are sure to meet us as we stay engaged in the spiritual life. When they do, we seek grace rather than results. When we pray the Serenity Prayer, we ask not for acceptance, change, and knowledge. Instead, we humbly request the serenity, courage, and wisdom to handle situations which used to baffle us. This provides an opportunity, once more, to express our intentions of “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
The fruits of this kind of transformation are seen through our First Reading this week, involving Solomon’s request for wisdom and understanding when God appears to him and says He will grant Solomon anything. This pleases God, who responds:
“Because you have asked for this—
not for a long life for yourself,
nor for riches,
nor for the life of your enemies,
but for understanding so that you may know what is right—
I do as you requested.
I give you a heart so wise and understanding
that there has never been anyone like you up to now,
and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
Like the treasure-diver or merchant from this week’s Gospel reading, Solomon saw what was of God and was willing to sacrifice all other opportunities in order to get it. Unfortunately, he started approaching his devotion to God with half-measures later in life, which inevitably lead to his (and Israel’s) downfall. Today we can learn from his experience.
A Christ-centered life brings infinite benefits. Rather than seeing our quality of life as a condition of circumstances and situations around us, we begin turning inward and see that the quality of circumstances around us is typically dependent upon our ability to invite God into the situation. Addiction recovery gives us the platform and steps to get there.
The difference for us, however, is that in order to keep the treasure we’ve found, we have to be willing to give it away.