Stupid, Slaves, Addicts

On Good Shepherd Sunday we pray “that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before.”

Apparently sheep are the only animals that do not go feral. The implication might be then, that we humans, for all our “wild wanderings,” can never be considered beyond redemption. Hold that thought.

Sheep seem fairly unintelligent and anxious, and so if we are honest with ourselves, identity and rapport with the image seems reasonable. At our best we can be thoughtful and calm. But stupidity, fear and fragility are like first or at least second cousins.

There is another dimension of the Good Shepherd Parable that is worth our attention:

I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold (John 10).

Jesus is not just “shepherd.” He is also the “gate.” The imagery is important.

A gate permits entry and exit.

Entry is to the sheepfold, where we find rest and comfort. Exit is to the world of action and work, where wisdom and bravery are required.

And yet, Christians – AKA “other Christs” – are often considered as stupid, slaves and addicts.

Three figures in the 19th Century peddled this ideology. Their musings persist, especially in places of higher education.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) claimed that religion is the “opium of the people.” If you want to avoid addiction, avoid God.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) claimed that if you want to be daring in life than throw away faith and rely on reason alone.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) claimed that Christian morality is slavery. Get rid of the Ten Commandments and Beatitudes and you’ll be free.

But, Jesus is the gate. We pass through him into the fullness of life.

He is our intelligent, good, balanced and brave shepherd who is both our “means” and “end” to eternal, resurrected life.

With him there is no need to feel or think you are stupid, a slave or addicted.

Amen.

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COMMENTS

Wordpress (9)
  • Paul Burt 3 months

    Interesting thoughts about some of ‘the great thinkers of our time’. And yet, though criticism of the Church and its individual members can be motivated by hostility, there can be reasons for taking some of these critiques seriously. Do we sometimes take a self-satisfied and comfortable approach to our faith (as a series of concepts), or to the practice of our faith (its application in our relationship with others)? Can we face, availing ourselves of God’s grace, (both intellectually and practically), the challenges such thinkers implicitly send us? Do we engage with our faith in a genuinely intelligent way? (as Nietzsche might doubt)? Do we practice it in a committed fashion? (As Marx might insist)? Do we look truthfully at the motives behind our behaviour and attitudes (as Freud demands)? Can the approach we have to our faith really withstand this kind of examination? Jesus shows us The Way, The Truth and The Life, and the saints who succeeded Him followed – do we?

    • Chris Rule 3 months

      An excellent response giving more food for thought.

    • Patrice Buetefuer 3 months

      Great thinking. Thanks for echoing my own insights.

  • Kevin 3 months

    Yes, we should always seriously examine our own motivations. That is, are we really fair dinkum. We can often fool ourselves but we can’t fool God.

  • Doreen Robinson 3 months

    Christianity or following the way of Christ requires courage compassion and commitment as all of the saints and mentors will teach us. These three principles are necessary yardsticks. Wisdom is a deep knowing that this is possible by grace. As I just read in a book recently Thanksgiving precessions the miracle 

  • Jenny Brosch 3 months

    Some places higher learning think that the head rules the heart.
    Christians know better.  There is something terribly cold about those ‘great thinkers of our time’.

  • Christopher K Crowley 2 months

    Check out ‘Words of Fire’ with Brendon and Bishop Barron. Som me fantastic insights into Life, God, theology, apologetics and much more

  • Alicia Peterson 2 months

    I think the heading ‘Stupid, Slaves, Addicts’ could be improved! I don’t like to think that I am stupid, a slave or an addict when I log into the daily readings and links to Mass.
    I am very appreciative of the efforts that have obviously been put into making the readings and daily Mass available to us in these difficult times.