Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 482

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God...

I found a coffee mug in the VA hospital, a "premium" offered by salespeople as they market their wares. On one side of the cup in prominent letters it reads: "The One to Start With; the One to Stay With." On the back side "Oxycontin."

I show this cup to the Veterans in our substance abuse  program to remind them that "our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness."

The marketing of Oxycontin has been controversial for several years. Many suspect drug manufacturers, marketers and doctors of exploiting patients as they push this opium-based pain relief. They manufacture not only the drug but also the research that proves it is safe, using tactics similar to those of the cigarette industry.

Many have made a fortune and retired -- in some cases to Canada -- before the inevitable consequences of drug addiction catches up with them. They have pursued the American dream of making money with opioids because it's not yet illegal. 

Permit me to quote myself, "If you think you can do well by doing good, be very, very careful!" Lots of people did well my marketing opioids; I'd hate to be in their shoes on Judgement Day. 

Should the United States be a moral country; should our laws strive to protect people from mischief? Most citizens would say yes but, when we're confronted with the marketing of "safe opiates" we have to wonder. Lawyers, of course, will assure us the law has nothing to do with morality. It's only a game of making profits while staying within the guidelines.

Jesus urged to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in a world such as ours. It's not a safe place. Naiveté is neither innocent nor blameless. The "armor of God" includes God's wisdom, which requires the disciplines of caution and critical study in dealing with a corrupt world. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.