SERVE MAN – SERVE GOD
Once upon a time a great Christian saint had come to Jerusalem. People from far and near came everyday to see him and to receive his blessings.
In a village close to Jerusalem, there lived a pious old woman. She was so weak and thin that, even in her home, she could walk only a few steps, stick in hand. The old woman would see every day a line of men, women and children passing by her home on their way to Jerusalem. “Why not I too go to Jerusalem and receive the saint’s blessings before I die?” she thought. “Even if I die on the way, God will bless me and take my soul to Heaven.”
The old women left home for Jerusalem the very next morning. At every step, she trembled and tottered. But she dragged herself on, with the stick in hand and the Lord in her heart. She had gone hardly half the distance when the heat of the sun made her feel tired, weak, helpless and giddy. With great difficulty, she managed to reach a big stone by the road-side and she sat on it, praying to the Lord for help.
After a short while, she saw some young boys and girls passing by. “Won’t you help me dear children, and take me along with you to Jerusalem?” she asked them in an appealing tone. Some of the youngsters stared angrily at her. Some made faces at her to express their surprise while some others said, “Granny, we would rather carry you to your grave than take you with us to Jerusalem.” All the youngsters then laughed loudly, jeered at the old woman and went their way.
After some time, a young priest came along that road. Hopefully, the old woman called out to him, “Dear Brother, will you kindly take me with you to Jerusalem?” The kind priest came near her and said “Don’t you worry, Granny. You can sit on my shoulders, holding my head for support. I will gladly carry you to Jerusalem.”
All reached the holy place. They saw thousands of people surrounding the raised platform on which sat the great saint. The youngsters who were short could not see the saint as the backs of elder persons came in the way. So they decided to get on one another’s shoulders and have a good view of the holy man. The boy who was the first to climb on his friend’s shoulders had a great shock. In the place of the great saint, he saw the wrinkled face of the old, grey-haired granny he had jeered at on the way. He rubbed his eyes again and again; but he saw the same wrinkled face smiling at him. “I don’t see the saint” he shouted. “In his place, I see the old granny we left behind on the road.” Every one of the youngsters tried his or her luck and all had the same disappointing experience.
Stranger still was the experience of the kind priest. He had a clear and full view of the Saint just when he lifted his hand to bless the devotees. That was not all. He felt for a while that he had the saint himself sitting on his shoulders, in place of the old woman and blessing him. All the peace and joy of Heaven seemed to be entering his heart. He was, indeed, the most blessed of all the pilgrims to Jerusalem that year – because he loved all the Lord’s children as much he loved the Lord himself.
- Why did the Priest offer help to the old woman to go to Jerusalem? What did he gain thereby?
- Why did the youngsters refuse to take the old woman to Jerusalem? What was the result?
- Suppose you were one of those youngsters, what would you have done?