Egyptian signet Ring with Tutankhamun's Throne Name
Reign of Tutankhamun,
Circa 1336–1327 B.C.
© The Metropolitan Museum, New York
An eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But...
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say this to you: offer the wicked man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.
‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Reflection on the Egyptian Ring
There is a story told of a holy man who used to meditate every morning under a large tree on the banks of the river Ganges in India. 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 had become caught in the tree’s strong roots that extended into the river bed. The more it struggled to free itself, the more entangled it became in the roots. The old man reached out to free the scorpion and, as soon as he touched it, the scorpion lifted its tail and stung him. Yet he reached out again to free it, until it was finally freed. A young man was passing and saw what was happening. He shouted out, ‘What is wrong with you? You must be mad. Why bother risking your life to save such an ugly and thankless creature?’ Speaking through his pain, the older man asked him, ‘Friend, because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I give up my own nature to save?’ He was determined to live out of his own best nature, even though his good actions were meeting with resistance that brought him pain.
That story from the Hindu tradition is not too dissimilar from the spirit of today’s Gospel reading, where Jesus calls on us to relate to other people not simply on the basis of how they relate to us. They may sting, but yet we should help… and move away from an ‘eye for eye and tooth for tooth’-mentality.
Our ring is signet ring with Tutankhamun's Throne Name. We see a scorpion at the very middle. The ancient Egyptians knew the scorpion and its toxicity. Hence wearing a scorpion symbol on a ring would have functioned as protection and keeping people at a safe distance. The three sun disks would signify eternity. With this ring the pharaoh would have sealed important documents and contracts.
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Matthew 5:38-48
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: