Friday, June 5, 2015

Inverting the World

In today's gospel we hear what seems to be a logical argument about the divinity of Jesus, and something more. The expectation of the time was that the messiah would be a "son of David", from his lineage. And yet with Jesus he is also to be the son of God, the Lord.

In their understanding of how hierarchy works, the Son of David would be lower than David. But citing psalm 110 and the expectation of the messiah as the one who would conquer the enemies, David says,

The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right handuntil I place your enemies under your feet.’

So how can the messiah be both son and Lord. The only way it works is if we stop using a vertical line as the way we image hierarchy.

Many Catholics don't even realize the we have a constitution for the Church, it is call Lumen Gentium. It is available online and is not all that hard to read. In Chapter 3 it explains how and why Christ set up the Church with a hierarchy. The chapter opens

For the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God, Christ the Lord instituted in His Church a variety of ministries, which work for the good of the whole body. For those ministers, who are endowed with sacred power, serve their brethren, so that all who are of the People of God, and therefore enjoy a true Christian dignity, working toward a common goal freely and in an orderly way, may arrive at salvation.

The Church is the "People of God" and the purposes of the hierarchy are not only to lead but to nurture and serve. Servant-Leadership as this is often called is not easy, only in prayer can we know when to serve, when to nurture, when to lead.

Tomorrow at the Cathedral here in Richmond, by the laying on of hands and prayer, three men will as this text says, be "endowed with sacred power." Ordained presbyters (priests) they will be faced with the day to day challenge of how to use wisely that sacred power. We call it sacred because its source is not the people or the bishop but God. It is given to us to nurture and build up the people of God. Like all people they will face the temptation to wield it as if it were human power, and lord it over their people. They will be constantly challenged to remember that when we speak of heriarchy in the Church, we are not to envision the organizational chart of a Fortune 500 company, but rather we must keep before our eyes always the only true Servant-Leader, Jesus who was both son and Lord.