Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 33

Two friends had an argument. One of them told the other:
– There is no God in the world.
The other friend, who was a believer, replied:
– You’re talking like an ill person who says, “There’s no health in the world.” Or like a blind man who says, “There is no light in the world”, instead of admitting that it is he who can’t see anything. You are talking like a pauper who says, “There is no gold in the world.” Is there really no gold on earth and under the ground? Or like a criminal who says, “There is no goodness in the world”, although it is he who lacks goodness. Likewise, you, my friend, are wrong when you say, “There is no God.” Who gave you the right to speak for everyone?
However, if you humbly admit, “I don’t know God”, it will be your confession and your first step toward Him.
Saint Innocent (Veniaminov) of Moscow used the following parable to explain the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven to his parishioners.
– Imagine that you happen to be the sole heir to your rich uncle. That uncle bequeathed to you his luxurious mansion on the top of a picturesque mountain. An introvert that he had been, he had not built a road to his mansion but used a path to get there instead. He left you a map of the mountain with the path marked on it. Therefore, you have to take that path if you want to get to the mansion that you inherited.
This is not unlike what we who aspire for the Heavenly Mansion, which our Lord Jesus Christ bequeathed to us, should do. We should learn which road leads to that place, and what we must and mustn’t do to get there and so forth.
Our map is the Holy Scripture and Orthodox books; the rangers are the pastors of the Holy Church whose duty is to help the faithful and lead them towards the paradise. Our food is God’s grace that strengthens our spirits. The path that leads to the paradise may sometimes be extremely narrow, thorny, and hard to tread, whilst other paths may appear wider and more comfortable. However, you should not trust your eyes. The Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles have forewarned more than once that there is only one road that leads to the Heavenly Kingdom, and that is the road described in the Gospel.
Saint John of Damascus said:
– Even a tree cut with an axe continues to grow; even a wound caused by an arrow heals and regenerates. Contrary to that, wounds inflicted by verbal arrows don’t heal because these arrows hit straight into the heart. Be quiet and humble.
Elder Amphilochius (Makris) was the rector of St John the Theologian Monastery at the Island of Patmos. He founded several monasteries, children’s shelters, and almshouses in the Greek islands.
The wise elder often used parables to make a point:
– Christ often comes and knocks at your door, and you invite him to sit in the antechamber of your soul. Then you get distracted by your problems and forget about the Great Guest. He sits there patiently waiting for you, and when you don’t return for too long, He gets up and leaves.
Sometimes you are so busy that you respond to him out of your window. You have no time even to open the door.
Saint Nikolaj (Velimirovic) said:
– A gardener cuts off some branches to make a tree grow better and bring more fruit. If he cuts off too many branches, the tree may die. Believe me, God overlooks each person more carefully and mercifully than any gardener could. This is what St Nil Sorsky said, “If a potter knows how long to keep a vessel in fire to prevent it from cracking, doesn’t God know how long we should suffer?” Rest assured that the Lord has much more knowledge and love than a human being.
There was a man who came to his bishop complaining that he was surrounded by cruel and unkind people, and that was why he felt very lonely in this world. The bishop listened to him and said:
– In fact, there are many good people around you. The problem is that people are like mines you have to dig into in order to find the hidden treasury. You can’t do it with a spade or picker. The only tool that you will find useful is called “love”.
This is how one holy hierarch interpreted the Lord’s miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread:
– Imagine a king who went out of his palace and threw gold coins into the crowd of his subjects. Beggars were happy because they received gold but those who loved their king were happy because they saw his face. The beggars will be waiting for the next appearance of the king in order to receive gold. Those who love the king will be waiting for his next appearance in order to see his face again. The five thousand people who ate five breads were hungry the following morning. However, the Lord’s miracle keeps nurturing those who love the Lord and who look at this miracle as the apparition of the Heavenly King.
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