Time to move to Middle Earth. The Shire is calling. I want a brightly colored round front door, and I will tolerate large hairy feet to get it!
My newsfeed right now is terrifying on an apocalyptic level. I’m ready to start dissociating from my reality and living in Tolkein’s fictional Middle Earth. I’ll take Sauron’s treats over the current political and social disasters looming over the US right now. Where is the fellowship when you need them?
Better yet, where is Gandalf? We need Gandalf. We need the gray wizard and his staff of light to guide us through the darkness.
Tolkein understood how vital it is to have a shepherd – a spiritual guide through the dark times. Gandalf is the archetype for the bishop/priest. He is the one with great wisdom (and a short temper). He sees Bilbo’s great need to leave his shallow comfortable life and grow through trial and suffering. He loves each member of his small fellowship (parish) and feels their loss and suffering as if they were his own.
Gandalf sacrifices himself for them and the world of good men and free people of Middle Earth. He is not the messianic figure that Frodo becomes, but the spiritual shepherd that makes the whole story of salvation come alive and play out in the fallen world of Middle Earth. He reminds the fellowship at every stumble of their true destiny. He is the wizard with the gift of light, a symbolic image of the priest’s ability to bring people to THE LIGHT, the Son of God, Truth.
The gray wizard leads the faithful along the arduous path of redemption. He is there to show them the way when they get lost. Just like a good priest, he chastises those who veer from the path and reminds them of the cost of their failure.
When weak and power-thirsty kings of men fail to see the evil around them, the spiritual shepherd calls out the truth. At every battle, he is out front, rallying the faithful and leading them to battle the evil of their world.
How blessed we are then to have our spiritual shepherds/priest today. How vital it is to have a Father who will call out the truth and chastise our ways when we get lost. What a gift it is to have our priests who sacrifice their entire life for the vocation to bring us to holiness. These men are out front leading the faithful in the battle against the evils of secularism and the culture of death. They give us hope when the Saurons/evils of our world surround us.
We need the light cast from the spiritual shepherds in our parishes to help sort through the many temptations and confusions of this age. Only pride allows us to place our own judgment of right and wrong above that of the ordained priest of Christ’s own Church.
May Our Lord Jesus Christ, who instituted the priesthood, protect it always. Give the men you call the courage to hear and respond, Lord.
Middle Earth will have to wait after all. The shepherds of my church are rallying the faithful for a great battle – to protect life. I can’t break the fellowship. I must respond and follow the Good Shepherd. So should you.