I fell in love with this reading from the prophet Hosea was I was 18, back right after my big conversion experience: “When Israel was a child, I loved him. Out of Egypt I called him my son…” (As a
I have had two liturgical, homiletic challenges recently. Last week we had a first communion on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. Actually it wasn’t too difficult to find a thread between those two things. And today we are celebrating
June 7th, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrated the monastic simple profession of our Brother James. (He had gone by the name Cassian throughout his novitiate year, but opted to return to his baptismal name.)
Years ago when I was studying Buddhism there was one concept that struck me and stayed with me as being particularly brilliant. In Sanskrit it’s called upaya, which means something like an aid or a technique; it’s usually seen in connection with another word, upaya kausalya, which means “skillful means.” Upaya kausalya is a device or a way to entice individuals towards perfection. It is said of the Buddha that he was using “skillful means” whenever he said something, and that he could always find something that would be useful in furthering someone’s progress. And it could be a little something different for each person; there is an upaya specifically geared to me, to you, a certain way that you are going to be able to hear the dharma––“a thousand roads leading up the mountain.”
I know it may sound strange, but something about the combination of these two readings reminded me of the Tao te Ching, that great ancient book of Chinese philosophy, chapter 52. Here’s one translation of it: “The origin and mother of everything in the world is Tao…” Please keep in mind that I have heard some very convincing arguments that the Chinese concept of the Tao and the Greek concept of the Word or logos are pretty much identical, to the extent that the prologue of the Gospel of John is translated, In the beginning was the Tao…
The origin and mother of everything in the world is Tao. Know the mother and you can know the children. Having known the children, return to their source and hold on to her. Abiding by the mother, you are free from danger, even when your body dies.