I heard from someone this story about an old widow from Uzic who died thirty years ago. She was rich but insatiably greedy. She would drive away all the poor who came to her door. She cursed at every beggar and turned them away with nothing. She had done only one good thing in her life: she took in an orphaned girl, providing her with food and shelter. The orphan did not eat her bread in vain, of course. She earned it with her daily labours and loyal service to her mistress.
One day, the woman died. She had been dead all night and until noon of the next day. They were about to lay her body in the grave, when suddenly she returned to life, trembling with fear. She recounted the incredible pain and anguish that tormented her soul while she was dead. “These torments would have been too much to bear if it had not been for this child. My kindness to her saved me,” confessed the woman. I wish I had known better and done more good things for others, she concluded. Then she spoke about an old archpriest from Uzic, a man who lived a life of righteousness, piety, and joy. She had no other wish than to spend her next life next to him. She also made it known that the old archpriest had predicted her death on a Good Friday. When Good Friday came, she put on her best clothes – libade, terebuk and all the other fancy garments that old women used to wear. But she did not die. A year later, she dressed up again for Good Friday, but she lived. She surrendered her soul to the Lord on the seventh Good Friday. All these years she was giving alms to the poor and helping everyone who asked. She was also spending her days in prayer. On the seventh good Friday, she dressed up around noon, called her neighbours and friends and told them she would die that day. But because she had been saying it every year, everybody laughed in disbelief. But this time, they were mistaken.
Saint Nicholas Velimirovic
A little girl had two apples in her hands when her mother asked her, “Darling, can I have one of your apples?” The girl looked at her mother for a few moments, then bit on the first apple, and almost immediately on the second. The woman sensed her smile slip off her face, as she tried hard not to reveal her disappointment. At that point, the girl handed her one of the apples she had just bitten and said, “Have this one, mother. It is sweeter!”
So let us not rush to any hasty judgement about others before we take a deeper look at the general picture, lest we misread the true motives of their actions.
A certain judge, a righteous Muslim, invited to his house an Orthodox Abbot who was ascetising in a monastery nearby. As they were having dinner, he asked the abbot: “You are a wise man. So tell me this. I am a judge, a Muslim, and I obey the laws of my faith. I judge impartially, do not take bribes, feed the poor, pray and fast. I live by the will of Allah. How can I not inherit the Kingdom?”
The abbot replied: “Do you have children, good man?”
“Yes” answered the judge.
“And do you have servants?”
“Of course, I do!”
“Who obeys you more – your children or your servants?”
“My servants. They listen to my every word. They go out of their way to please me. And my children… They are often haughty, obstinate and disobedient.”
The abbot said: “When you die, who will you leave your estate to – your children or servants?”
“My children, of course!” – exclaimed the judge.
“It is the same way with the Kingdom. You may be an ideal servant, but s son will inherit the estate. There is only one way you can become one – Jesus,” concluded the abbot.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds