A Christmas Homily 2011 by Abbot Owen  We sit, we kneel, we stand and we sing while we wait for mystery to penetrate the very pores of our lives.

Homily for Christmas at Mount St. Scholastica,  2011

By Abbot Owen Purcell, OSB

We sit, we kneel, we stand and we sing while we wait for mystery to penetrate the very pores of our lives. We sit and wait as we continue to cut the brambles around the lotus plant that is a symbol of our lives. The lotus proclaims its beauty when the brambles die. The lotus waits to bloom in the clearing.

Thus speaks a “female Taoist sage” in a poem sent to friends of mine. In the spirit of Christmas I share it with all of you.  The first part of the poem reads: “Cut brambles long enough sprout after sprout, and the lotus will bloom of its own accord already waiting in the clearing.”

In the concrete world of “what is”, Taoism, the poet speaks of trimming the brambles around the lotus plant.  In Christianity we are no less concrete as we speak of the manger, the animal there, the smells of the cave the cry of the Babe, the song of the Shepherds. We can sit in our choir stalls and pews remembering, oooing and ahhhhing, wondering, “How marvelous it is that on this night humanity becomes Divine and the Divine becomes human.  We live the Wonderful Exchange!”

So the lotus waits for the brambles to be gone from the clearing.   The poem of Sun Bu’er continues: “The single image of light, the day you see this, that day you will become it. What blinds us to the light? What are we doing to stifle the Wonderful exchange of human and divine?   Why does the Divine in our lives seem so distant?   Perhaps we are simply afraid of love.  Perhaps there are brambles of selfishness and perhaps of hurt. Perhaps we have loved and lost.  Perhaps we bear the scar tissue that can come from loving.  

“The single image of light “shines above the manger. We approach the Child guided by that star.  We pray:  Just for today let the brambles be far away and lost in memory, Little Child, Jesus.   I am in the light. Let me become you.”
see other homilies

visitors since September 2001