Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy
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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Thinking about Words

I was considering Our Lord’s use of the Greek word kalos instead of agathos for “I am the Good Shepherd.” Both words mean good. But agathos is more typical of that which is intrinsically, morally good. When Our Lord says, “No one is good by God” He uses agathos. Kalos is more typical of that which is fit for its purpose. A good hammer is a hammer that hammers well. So Jesus is the Fit or Beautiful Shepherd.

That got me to considering the word good in English. I went to As usual, I was delighted to find so many entries. If you don’t read the dictionary for fun, you are missing out. Good is such a common word that we rarely give it much consideration. I don’t think I’ve ever looked it up before and I should have.

That got me thinking about how the word is typically used. A good dog, or a good boy for that matter, is one which is obedient. A good mood is a happy mood. A good hamburger is tasty but that is because it is good at being a hamburger. A hamburger that takes like prime rib is not a good hamburger even if it is delicious.

Then I thought of how often single mothers tell me their children’s father is a “good dad.” I am positive that there are fathers who have been separated from their children’s mothers who work hard to provide for, discipline, and teach their children. But when the mothers tell me, his father is a good dad, it almost never true. “Good dad” ought not to mean “good at impregnating.” Nor should it mean “good at playing with children on rare occasions” or “good at enjoying childish cuteness when it is convenient.” It ought to mean good at providing for, disciplining, and teaching children.

And then I considered the new term I heard for the first time within the last year: “baby daddy.” A “baby daddy” is how a single mom refers to a man who impregnated her but with whom she had no real or lasting relationship. He isn’t her ex-husband. He may not even be an ex-boyfriend. When I first heard this I was shocked. What culture in the history of the world needed a word to describe this unique relationship between a man and a woman ? I think we are the first. Before the advent of “baby daddy” the closest words we had to this were “rapist” or “John” as in, customer of a prostitute.

Not all dads are good dads. Some are dirt bags. Some are drunks. Some aren’t worthy of the name. For the record, not all moms are good moms either. Good men throughout the ages have striven to provide for, discipline, and teach their children whether they were allowed to live in the same house or not.

Whether your dad was a good dad or not. The Lord Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He is good at it. He is a Good Shepherd, the Best Shepherd, a Fit and Beautiful Shepherd. And His Dad is likewise a truly Good Dad in ever sense of the term. And in the Good Shepherd He is your Dad and loves you. Therefore, thanks be to God, there is hope for “baby daddys,” “rapists,” and “prostitutes,” as there is also for those who have been spared those degradations.
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