Twelve Steps begins with admitting one’s powerless like the woman from today’s Gospel did. She came out shouting her helplessness like Bill Wilson did. ‘Take pity on me. – She was pleading – My daughter is tormented by a devil.’ In her story we discover that like Bill Wilson she was ready to do anything. In fact she swallowed her pride. The sense of failure which she lived with for many years was the environment for her realism but also for her faith in ‘a Power greater then ourselves’ as the Twelve Steps define it.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! After admitting one’s powerlessness and then one’s belief in a Power greater than oneself the person doing the Twelve Steps is encouraged to make a decision to turn his or her will and life to the care of God as she or he understood him. Some people claim that they are recovering from their addiction without any reference to God. My response to such comments is: ‘Good for you. I am happy that you beat you addiction. However do not call it Twelve Steps. What you are doing is your own steps. They may work but I cannot guarantee that. On the contrary I can guarantee that the original Twelve Steps born from Bill Wilson’s struggles with his life, his reflection on the Scriptures and his commitment to God, do work.
Bill Wilson encouraged addicts to turn to God as they understood him. He didn’t lead people to some fairy stories or imaginary gods but he pointed to God whom we adore in Jesus Christ. Knowing from his experience that often people had a poor image of God, the image which was limited and fragmented, but it was all they had, he said to them: Hang on to that. Even if your faith is childish and superficial that’s all you’ve got. Hang on to that.
Because faith isn’t about imagining a god to make people feel better. Faith is not about having an imaginary friend, like some children sometimes do. Faith is about turning with our physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social insufficiency and fragility to God who can embrace us the way Jesus embraced that woman from today’s Gospel. She turned to Jesus and it was her victory. St Matthew tells us that she was addressing Christ as: ‘Son of David and Lord.’ She saw in Jesus not a visiting doctor but God. Her faith wasn’t perfect at that stage but she turned to God for real because God to whom she turned to was real. The outcome of that interaction was not only the miracle of healing granted to her daughter but it was also the great faith, as Jesus described it. She returned to her home not only to see a healthy daughter but to be a healthy and faith-filled mother to that daughter.
My Dear fellow believers. These are not simply inspiring stories. They show us how much the Blessed Lord can accomplish in those who turn to him. When we turn to him and give our life to him we have a relationship with God. Then we have the life which can be compared to the Gospel from last Sunday. The man of little faith, Simon Peter, was sinking. What happened to him next? He cried out: ‘Lord! Save me’ and Jesus was holding his hand. We may have little faith but because our Lord is real he will save us like the Lord has saved millions of people doing the Twelve Steps.