An Antidote to Sin’s Narcotic Slumbers
Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year (C) | Fr Oliver James Keenan says that true religion is like Narcan, awakening us to see life more fully in reality.
According to the memorable paraphrase, for Karl Marx religion was nothing but “the opium of the masses”, an artefact of human psychology that provided a way of coping with the unpalatable aspects of life by escaping into the promise of otherworldly paradise. Religion, for Marx, is about seeing less, anaesthetising ourselves to the harsh and painful truth. In fairness, something like this might be going on in our first reading, where those who are “ensconced so snuggly in Zion” are comfortably “sprawling on their divans” and ivory beds, dining on all the most delicious things of the land, without a second thought for the ruin of Joseph. Until, that is, they are awoken from their comfortable fantasy: “the sprawlers’ revelry” is put to an end by the shock of exile.