Jesus told his disciples, “You know how among the Gentiles those who exercise authority
lord it over them, making their importance felt, but it cannot be that way with you.”
Now, our priests in the year 500 were troubled at remembering Jesus saying that. Let me recall the historical events that brought about their perplexity.
In the year 315, the Roman emperor Constantine became a Christian, putting an end to the persecution of Christians. But when he died in 337, his son Constantius, who followed him as emperor, embraced the Arian heresy that said Jesus was a very good person, but not the Son of God.
By the year 450 almost all of Europe became Arians, and the pope had his back to the wall. But then the Franks, a new nation from the east, moved in, and its king, Chlodwech, married a Christian girl who brought the king and all of the Frank nobles to be baptized Christians.
But then, a social problem arose. All of the nobles, who shared in the king’s inheritance, had serfs and lands, but he common people slept with the pigs.
So, the king thought up a ceremony for giving some dignity to the priests. Each of the priests came before the nobles, announcing, “I have an inheritance, my inheritance is the Lord.” With that, the priests became more important than the nobles, and it bound people to address each of them as “My Lord,” or “The most reverend.”
That allowed Christianity to flourish, but it left the priests feeling they were going against Jesus who said, “You know how among the Gentiles those who exercise authority lord it over them , making their importance felt, but it cannot be that way with you.”