The security officer was 350, maybe 400 pounds. None of the weight appeared to be fat, in fact, if he hadn’t moved he could have been mistaken for a gorilla in a pinstripe suit. Two other security guards were beside him with hands folded and heads down, the two of them didn’t make the one of him. They were facing a diminutive gentleman somewhere in his 30s, wearing a ball cap, mustache, jeans, t-shirt and a sway that bespoke the consumption of massive amounts of festive beverage. We were in a hallway between a motel and a casino. Some of us in the clergy business on occasion go to such dens of desperation, debt, desuetude, double down and deleterious double dealing to study the sinner in his or her natural habitat. (if you believe the foregoing sentence, I have a grapefruit grove in Antarctica for sale)
Back to the inebriated man in the ball cap; as I was walking past he addressed the security detail, “Guys, if you’ll just take me to the bar, buy me a beer, THEN I’ll go up to my room.” The large officer responded in a voice reminiscent of Darth Vader, but with more menace, “Sir, we are taking you to your room now.” The future liver recipient raised his voice so after some distance while walking he could still be heard. “I’ll have your jobs for this! I’m going to sue this casino! You three will never work anywhere again! This casino will be sorry!” This attempt of the “North Korean Diplomacy Method” presumably failed.
The next morning I happened to pass in the motel hallway, guess who? Yes, the same mustachioed man with ball cap; he had a lady about his age in tow. He was rather animated for a man that must have had a hangover the size of the Hindenberg. Again his voice could be heard clearly, “I’ve lost everything! I lost my house, my car, my dog and my cat!” Losing your house and/or car at a casino is regrettable and, unfortunately, not that rare, but your dog and cat? Did he throw their pet licenses on the craps table and say, “Let it ride?” Was he in a high stakes poker game with a veterinarian? You have to wonder how the rest of his life is going to play out if he keeps doing foolish things.
Then again, we all do foolish things in life now and again, and we hope as we age our foolish acts give way to walking the way of the wise. The Gospel of this Sunday is the parable of the ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. [MT 25:1-13] We don’t need to repeat the parable here but one of our religious education children asked a penetrating question, “Why wouldn’t the wise virgins share? They had extra?” Well, the Scripture quotes the wise as reminding the foolish that then, they both might run out. But is there something more to it? It is true that we can share our faith in the sense of telling about it but we cannot GIVE someone faith.
We certainly can encourage, inspire, exhort, etc., others to faith but a person’s faith can only be increased by that person, through the help of God. The primary source is the reception of the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist; other sources include prayer, works of charity, works of mercy, meditation, etc. In the end its is only God who fills and renews our faith through the Sacraments, prayer and works. A person has none to blame but himself for a foolish act; sure, a buddy may entice you to do something idiotic, but only you make the choice to do it. So too with faith; wisdom urges us to fill our souls with God’s grace but only the person can make the decision to do it. “For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence…” [WIS 6:12-16]
Now, back to the casino; more sinners need my help.