Several months ago I wrote a post entitled “Kung Fu Friar,” in which I reflected on my experience in martial arts. Some of my Dominican brothers have asked me to write a sequel, so here, in a more fanciful vein, I set down the Kung Fu Friar’s account of his journey to find the Golden Rosary.
After being trained by the great Master in the art of combat, I was sent on a mission to recover the long-lost Golden Rosary. Legend tells that the Rosary had once brought great peace to the land, but that it had mysteriously disappeared when the people of the realm stopped praying. Wickedness had then fallen upon the whole world. Thousands of years later, however, the wise and eternal Master from above deemed that it was now time to recover the Golden Rosary, and he chose me to lead this most worthy undertaking.
He said, however, that I could not recover the Rosary on my own. I would need a companion for the journey, a friend; and only with a friend would I be able to find it.
I had never had a “friend” before—the concept was foreign to me—and finding one seemed like an impossible task, but the Master reassured me. With the Master, nothing is impossible.
I set out on the journey, carrying no moneybag, no sack, no sandals. Far and wide I searched for this friend. I entered thousands of homes and encountered millions of people along the way, to no avail. None of them seemed a fitting companion. Some were too short, and some were too tall; some were too talkative, and some were too quiet. A few had great skill in the art of combat, but possessed little in the way of humility or wisdom.
Alas, would I ever be able to find the right person to accompany me on my journey? Would I ever be able to find for myself a “friend”?
One day, as I walked along the dusty road, almost in a state of despair, I noticed from afar a man who had fallen victim to robbers. They had stripped and beaten him and had gone off, leaving him half dead. Moved with compassion at the sight, I approached the man, poured oil and wine over his wounds, and bandaged them. Then I lifted him up on my back, took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day, leaving the man to recover under the supervision of the innkeeper, I prepared to continue on my quest. But as I was saying goodbye, the poor man grabbed my arm. He reached into his shirt pocket, and behold, he took out a rosary fashioned of gold. He gave it to me, and I marveled at the precious beads, which sparkled in my hands. There was an inscription on the back of the crucifix. It read:
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter;
he who finds one finds a treasure.
The man then disappeared, and I was left to myself, still clasping the rosary in my hands. Immediately, I fell to my knees and recalled the Great Commandment my Master had taught me: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
This is the meaning of friendship. Friendship is not about finding the “right” person. Rather, friendship is about being a friend to others. It means loving another as God loves us, and God loves us not because we are good, but because He is. God loves us not because we are the “right people” for Him; rather, He loves us gratuitously, out of the abundance of His own goodness. This is what the Master calls us to: to be a friend to others as He has been a friend to us.
From that time on, I carried the Golden Rosary with me wherever I went, praying the beads daily and befriending those whom I had shunned before. And, indeed, since then a friend has always been at my side.
Image: Katsushika Hokusai, Martial Arts