Monday of the First Week of Lent
As I write this meditation, it is the Lunar New Year. Here in California, with its large Asian population, this holiday makes itself felt. Chinese written civilization is, of course, very ancient – and the East has always been respected as being especially wise. The ideographs – characters – of classical Chinese are very beautiful as an art form, and they contain within themselves a visual and intuitive wisdom that undergirds more conceptual developments. My favorite example of this is the Chinese character for “good” – “hao.” It is made up of two very simple, more basic characters: a woman and a baby.
So, for many thousands of years, the very symbol of goodness in this most ancient civilization has been a mother and her child. Far to the West, this goodness was fully revealed in that Mother and Child who are celebrated in thousands of paintings, and the names Mary and Jesus brought this symbolic, intuitive knowledge into the depths of our hearts. Because the whole world knows that if there is anything holy in this fallen world, it is the pure bond of love between a mother and her child.
Of course, the God of Leviticus is speaking to a People chosen to bring His Name into the world, a People who above all were to be holy. And that holiness did in fact emerge, after centuries of turbulent history, in that faithful remnant that produced Mary, and fully revealed the holiness of God in her Son Jesus. And it is a holiness that does not end with a sentimental nod at the beauty of infancy: it is a holiness that will continue to pour itself out ever more fully through life and passion and death into Resurrection. Let us then be holy, as He is holy: let us celebrate the goodness of God’s wisdom spread throughout the world, and let us lead that world to ascend the peak of that wisdom, the Mount called Calvary.