Sunday, November 20, 2011

He Stoops to Conquer

From the Morning Prayer hymn in, feast of Christ the King

Before all time you ruled alone,
Then Hope of ages you became,
To your sweet yoke we gladly bow
And your supremacy proclaim.

The Second Adam of our race,
You are the Flower of Virgin-birth,
The Stone that crushed the Kingdom’s might
And grew until it filled the earth.

Our Teacher, Priest, Law-giver too,
New life to all your Triumph brings;
Your blood-stained robe reveals your name:
The Lord of Lords and King of kings.
 The Divine Office  and Mass on Sunday  were  all full of thrones, glory, power, might, exaltation, judgment.   Holy communion seemed more a non sequitur on Our Lord's part than usual.The King of Kings and Lord of Lord takes time from ruling the universe to come to spend time with a scatter-brained fifty-something woman out in the sticks of Pennsylvania. Beats me why He'd want to do such a thing.  But that's just how He is.

I thought of   stories from literature and history where a king goes in disguise among his people, humbling himself in simple attire in order learn what they're thinking about him. My first thought was of Henry V in Shakespeare's play, hooded and cloaked, hearing himself abused by a cynical foot soldier. Then I remembered a more appropriate  "disguised king" story.  Aragorn, in The Return of the King, enters Gondor quietly, by night,, hiding his identity.  It is not yet time for him to reveal himself as the rightful king. But moved by compassion for the sick and the wounded of the city, he enters, without fanfare, for the sole purpose of healing them.

The last enemy has not yet been destroyed. Until then, our King and Healer humbles himself, cloaked in the appearance of bread and wine, and comes to us quietly.