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Remigius of Rheims
Preached by Fr. Paul Burrows on 15th after Pentecost (Sunday, October 2, 2011)
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Proper 22, year A
Advent of Christ the King
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
When, in 496, St. Remigius baptized Clovis, who by then had become the King of all the Franks, it must have seemed to the refined Gallo-Romans of the region that their kinsman was taking this text just a little too literally. Clovis represented that rising tide of barbarian tribes that had swept into the decaying Roman Empire and displaced the refined society into which Remigius had been born with a vulgar warrior culture that had little time for art or literature. But it was to be Clovis and his Franks that transformed Western Europe and laid the foundation for the hegemony of Latin Christianity in the West during the middle ages.
That it is the unpromising, even those that seem enemies to the faith, that have so often in history been used to further God’s purpose for us should give us all pause. For we all have a tendency to make ourselves an exclusive club, different from those outside our circle, better than them. While the premise of Don Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” is absurd the idea that catholic Christianity subverted the message of the Gospel is not so far from the truth. While the ‘legend’ of the children of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was invented to give Clovis divine progenitors, the move to use doctrine as power was there from the early days of Christianity.
The lesson for us in all the readings that we have heard today is that we have not so much to fight our enemies as to convert them. We are not here to point out others shortcomings but rather to find ways to make them into our friends. The tenants of the vineyard make the mistake of thinking that they can keep the vineyard for themselves and so are enticed into wickedness. We, all of us, need to beware that we do not make the mistake of thinking that all of this, our worship, our music, the message of the Gospel, is all about us and thus fall victim to the vice of trying to keep and preserve it for ourselves.