Once upon a time, there was a priest who the people loved. In his church, he found no need to stand on a platform. He didn’t need to put on the clerical vestment to command respect. But he got old and sick and regretfully, he had to leave.
He got replaced by a man who needed to stand on a platform. So a platform was installed behind the altar. Alas, the platform kept being stolen. This had to stop. And so, it was announced one day that the padlock to get into the Church had been changed. Now whoever needed to use the premises had to get the key from the priest. The people cried out,’ you don’t trust us!’ ‘But nobody ever tells me anything!, he said, meaning, ‘you don’t trust me!.’
What is the significance of this story?
The platform or podium represents authority, hierarchy, power, control. The platform demands obedience to Mother Church.
The key is the metaphorical key to the Kingdom of Heaven. If the door is shut, you can’t come in. There is no salvation outside Mother Church.
But there is another story that requires no interpretation.
Once there lived a king whose kingdom was not of this world, but some of his followers wanted him to be a king of their world.
This man didn’t come into their world with pomp and ceremony, for in a stable, he was born.
Later in life, he chose to sit, eat and drink with those despised by the upper echelons.
He moved in the circle of the ‘unclean’-
prostitutes, lepers and others who were seriously ill.
This man did not always observe the Sabbath Day, for on that day one day, he healed.
As his reputation grew, they welcomed him into Jerusalem as ‘King’. To their surprise, he chose to enter the city sitting on a donkey, not in a stretched limousine.
On the night before he suffered, he was among his friends. His friends were astounded because he, the Master, got up and washed their feet and told them,
‘Servants are not greater than their Master nor are the messengers greater than the one who sent them.’
For reflection, we ask: which ‘model of Church’ might the Master sanction today? I pray for the renewal of trust in this Church, for the priest and his flock to begin to talk, that in the light of the riots in Redfern following the death of T.J. Hickie, that we as a parish become a Church of Service to our people and that we choose to associate with the drunks, the lowly and the dispossessed, Lord hear us!