The story is told of a Holy old man who used to meditate every morning under a large tree on the banks of the river Ganges in northern India. The place he chose was near a site of pilgrimage where Hindus came to wash in the sacred river and cleanse themselves of their sins. One morning, after he had finished his meditation , the old man noticed a large scorpion floating helplessly on the strong current of the river. The scorpion became entangled in the tree’s long roots that extended into the river bed. The more it struggled to free itself, the more entangled it became in the twining roots. The old man reached out to free the captive animal and, as soon as he touched it, the scorpion lifted its tail and stung him wildly. But the old man reached out again to free it.
A young man was passing and saw what was happening. He shouted out: “Old man what’s wrong with you? You must be mad! Why bother risking your life to save such an ugly useless creature?”
The old man turned to the onlooker, and in his pain there was a question:” Friend,” he said, “because it is in the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I give up my own nature to save?”
The story of the old man and the scorpion raises a problem that we all face: do we take our cue for action from the treatment we receive from others, or do we continue in the way of graciousness even when we get stung ourselves?
Do we live in a way of graciousness, a Christian way of loving God through our neighbour? Or do we listen to the voices looking for revenge or retaliation?
Being a Christian is a difficult and all consuming way to live our lives and to enhance our world with the grace of Jesus Christ. Lent seems a good time to reassert our efforts to live according to our Christian principles.