Ignorance means dependence; it is slavery: when you do not know, you remain a servant. As soon as understanding dawns and we begin to grasp what is essential, we start to be free. Any freedom from which the truth is excluded is a deception. Christ the truth means: God changes us from ignorant servants into friends in as much as He permits us to become sharers in His own divine self-knowledge.
Unpublished Talk: Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today, Forever
Reflection – Ratzinger here is referring to the famous words of Christ ‘I call you friends, for I have taught you all I have learned from the Father’ (John 15:15). You know, sometimes I pick up from my non-Christian family members or friends a certain sense that it just doesn’t matter what the truth is, that we cannot know and that it is not important to know what life is all about. We’re all in a muddle about it all, and so let’s just keep muddling on and trying to be nice to each other while we’re doing it.
While I’m all in favor of muddling along and being nice to one another, this quote from Ratzinger shows why this is inadequate. Ignorance means slavery—if we don’t know what life is about we remain at best passive victims of its inner workings. When we are surrounded by cosmic powers greater than us and plunged into a world where the ultimate purposes and ends of things is shrouded in darkness, we truly are floating helplessly for the most part on the tide of life, not really free.
Freedom is such a basic human good, though, that I think most people cannot happily submit to that kind of ignorant slavery. Indeed, one of the main driving reasons for the wide-scale rejection of Christianity and the Church is, simply, that people don’t want to be told what to do. ‘Too many rules’ – I think that’s 90% of the reason for the abandonment of religion in our days.
But without religion—without a coherent, consistent vision of reality that empowers us to act in accordance with itself—we are not free, but helpless victims of fate. And meanwhile God did not make us to be slaves, but to be free. Our own hearts tell us that, and they do not lie to us.
He's not done.
He's speaking the truth.
How I wish more would hear him.