Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)
Out of the womb I have begotten you before the morning star.Psalm 110:3 (Interpreted by St. Athanasius, Deposition of Arius 3)
He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin. Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”Hebrews 2:11
All men are my brothers from the same womb, all things my companions.1Zhang Zai (Chang Tsai, 1020-1077)
Jesus Christ fulfilled the highest intuition of the sages that we are all family. Without departing the eternal Womb of the Father, the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary into our world to gather all people to himself.
The God-man’s paternal and maternal origins resonate with the natural philosophy of Neo-Confucianist philosopher Zhang Zai who called Heaven “Father” and Earth “Mother.” Heaven and Earth constitute the whole of reality, the Universe which is fundamentally loving, nurturing, and benevolent. Zhang Zai was influenced by the ancient cosmology of China which characterized the Tao (“Way,” universal principle, Logos) as a mother. The Tao is gentle, kind, merciful, yielding, and sacrificial.
Although the book of Hebrews, full of references to Israelite temple worship, priesthood, and customs sounds very foreign to cultures of the East, the extraordinary humility and love of Christ strike a deep chord.
Now since the children share in blood and flesh, he likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.Hebrews 2:14-18
Christ is the perfect icon of the Tao made flesh:
Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong
This is because nothing can replace it
That the weak overcomes the strong
And the soft overcomes the hard
Everybody in the world knows
But cannot put into practice
Therefore, sages say:
The one who accepts the humiliation of the state
Is called its master
The one who accepts the misfortune of the state
Becomes king of the world
The truth seems like the opposite
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 78 (translated by Derek Lin)
The “king of the world,” crowned with the “glory and honor” of his sacrificial death on the Cross (Hebrews 2:9), is our gateway to union and communion.
Heaven, earth, and all human persons are called to oneness in the Womb of the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.
1 Fung Yu-Lan, The Spirit of Chinese Philosophy, trans. E. R. Hughes (Boston: Beacon Press, 1947), 175.