Friar Tuck–A Franciscan Soul

Posted: December 8, 2010 by Ty in Spirituality of Robin Hood

So of all the Merry Men, the one that is hardest to tie to any historic figure in Friar Tuck.  Now does this mean that he is only an artful creation? Well no, again it is how we approach the legends.  For within these stories are deeper truths for us to reflect on.

Watch, read or listen to any version of the Robin Hood Mythos.  Friar Tuck is the representative of the cleric class.  At the moment of oppression, the clerics were part of the oppressive classes, Friar Tuck’s humble brown habit reveals his spiritual charism.

That charism is Franciscan, followers of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived a life that pointed back towards Christ and from Christ to God.  I myself am a former Franciscan, so here are some virtues that come out of Friar Tuck’s life.

A throwing off of the prestige and wealth factory that the institutionalized church had become, but rather had gone out to live and serve the poor as an itinerant preacher, or a “mendicant” the slur used to describe Franciscans, as the open handed. Beggars–whom were available to surrender that which they owned, to others in a deeper need because they truly owned nothing (vows of simplicity/poverty).

Their mistress was poverty, this meant that they were against the institutionalized structure of education that was used to create a socio-economic gap between classes, but rather were in favour of an internalized discipleship that saw each friar start with one gospel teaching, and once it was known and lived, then wood move on to the next.

So hear is Friar Tuck, one who has turned his back on the corrupt institution of the church, as Comrade Karl Marx would later call religion, “the opiate of the people” that is that which allows disempowerment and perpetuation of poverty, and power for a few.  He goes amongst those cast out, like Francis embraced the leper, stepping through his fears, so Tuck enters Sherwood Forest, the place of fear, and emerges with those in most need, standing alongside, living the Gospel of loving one another as Jesus loves him.

So in Friar Tuck, whether he is a historical figure or literary device, what we have is a character to reflect on the character of the Holy Mystery, and the way in which we live in and out of the love that permeates all.

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