Lent Week 2: Tuesday
Two Buddhist monks were travelling through China when they came to a shallow river. Here they found a young woman in beautiful silk robes. They asked her why she was there and she told them that she could not cross the river because she was worried that she would ruin her garments. The older of the monks offered to carry her across on his shoulders and she accepted his kind offer and they crossed the river and the monks carried on with their journey. The younger monk however believed that his partner’s behaviour was scandalous and told him so as they traveled on. He continued to criticise his brother, who remained silent, for about an hour, pointing out that their rule did not allow them to talk to or even touch women and that great disgrace had been caused by his act of kindness. The older monk then interjected: ‘Brother, are you not also causing disgrace by holding on to this transgression? I have let it go. Which of us is weighed down more by it?’
This little fable has an important message about sin. During Lent we are called to look at how sin weighs us down. We have to humble ourselves and realise that we need to listen to the voice of the Lord and “learn how to do good”. However it is not enough to wallow and revel in the fact of our fallen human nature. Jesus did not come only to tell us that we are sinners. He offers the solution. He does not come to bind us with heavy burdens, that are hard to bear, but through the Paschal Mystery he offers freedom and release. Lent allows us to realise our sinfulness but also realise that our sins have been nailed to the cross with Christ. Through His blood “our sins shall be as white as snow … they shall become like wool”. We cannot cross the river alone but Christ offers to carry us over into the promised land. There is no need to hold on to sin!