We Are His Sheeple, The Flock He Tends

The English language is a living language, which means that words change meaning and new words are added all the time. And as the English language grows, so does the dictionary. Last year, ‘clickbait’, ‘slacktivism’, and ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ were just some of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Recently, Merriam Webster dictionary also added a new word: sheeple. It defines sheeple as people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced. People likened to sheep.

Fr. Matthew Spencer discussed this new term recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, and reflected on being sheeple in light of our relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd. He said:

“The interesting thing to me is to think, is that what Jesus meant when He said that He is the Good Shepherd and His people are His sheep? We, the people, are the flock that He shepherds. Is this the sense that Jesus implied, that we should just be mindless followers of His teaching? That we should be unthinking?

No. I think any Christian understands in context what these things mean. Jesus didn’t mean you should just check your mind at the door, leave it there so you can come into church and be unthinking and undiscerning, and just receive and go be an automaton in the world.

That’s not what it means to follow Jesus, and it’s certainly not what He meant when He Himself takes on the title of being the Good Shepherd. What did it mean for Jesus to fulfill His role as the Good Shepherd? It meant that He cares for His sheep, that His sheep hear His voice, that His sheep look to Him for protection and for guidance.

And I think as we look to our own lives as Christians, we have to ask ourselves that. Are we just looking to be spoon-fed in our faith? I’ll tell you, there are very few people out there who are doing that. The vast majority of us are trying to do it ourselves.

We think, ‘I don’t need a shepherd. I don’t need someone to help me out. I don’t need guidance or protection, I can do this on my own.’ And that is a real danger. … Jesus is the Good Shepherd to guide us, to lead us to safe pastures, to protect us from evil.

And when you look at your own life, I wonder if you’re looking to Jesus with that in mind. To say, ‘If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, to follow Him means I’m going to have to depend on Him.’

I’m going to be thinking about it, I’m going to be discerning about it, I’m going to be trusting in Jesus and not just mindlessly doing something without using the gift of intellect that He has given to me. But at the same time, realize that I shouldn’t just be easily influenced by everyone around me. I shouldn’t just go with the flow – everybody’s going to Mass now, so I guess I’ll go. Well, nobody’s going to Mass anymore, so why should I?

That, my friends, is being a sheeple. And there are many of those in the world: religious sheeple who kind of just go with the flow, unthinking and undiscerning. Instead, maybe it’s time for us to look at our own lives and say, ‘How am I going to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd?'”

Listen to more below:

St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Pacific on Immaculate Heart Radio.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.