Our Own Stupidity…
The gloves are off. St. Paul tells the Galatians exactly how foolish their actions are:
O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? …Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? -Galatians 3:1,3, NAB
In the footnotes of the NAB translation, it expands on what stupid really means:
“Stupid: not just senseless, for they were in danger of deserting their salvation.” -footnotes from the NAB
Not just senseless. If they were simply being senseless, they would not be perceiving (with their senses) the difference between salvation through works and salvation through Christ. Instead, St. Paul is saying that their actions are lacking any intelligence whatsoever.
The Galatians were not making wise decisions in who they followed. They had chosen to go down the wrong path, and St. Paul seems unafraid to call them out on it. Their actions were leading them away from salvation, and St. Paul was determined to get them back on the right track again – even if it mean throwing a few insults around.
As it states in verse 3, the Galatians’ faith began with the Spirit but is moving toward the flesh. Our own stupidity looks much like this. Our faith begins with an impactful moment that brings us to the Holy Spirit and to Christ. Over time, however, we begin to slide from that initial faith we had and begin following a more legalistic path to our faith.
In my own life, I am guilty as charged. My initial conversion to Christianity was a profound experience. My conversion to Catholicism opened up a whole new world to me. Now, only a few years later, it’s easy to get caught up in the legalistic side of our faith – all of the rules – and forget about what got us to where we are in the first place – our faith in Christ.
Our own stupidity can drive us away from Christ, just like it did to the Galatians. We get caught up in the rules and regulations of our faith yet forget what really matters: Jesus Christ. We need to make sure that our own stupidity does not get the best of us. We need to hold firm to the Spirit and let go of the flesh.
Some may think that St. Paul was using inappropriate, harsh words, but it may have been exactly what the Galatians needed. We may need the same wake up call in the midst of our own stupidity. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come down to that.