Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 12

A thief broke into a hermit’s cell one night. The thief didn’t find any valuables so he asked the hermit:
— Where’s all your property?
The hermit smiled and pointed at the sky:
— I’ve hidden everything in the higher house.

There was a monk who lived in the Egyptian desert. He was so tired of temptations that he decided to give up monastic life and go wandering around.
While he was putting on his shoes, he saw another monk who was putting on his shoes in a hurry.
– Who are you? – the monk asked the stranger.
– I’m your own ego, – the answer was. – Wherever you go, I will go there with you.

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”.

That is how one ascetic explained what humility is like:
– All people want to be great but God wants us to be small. You have to kneel down to enter the door that leads into the Heavenly Kingdom.

A foreign tourist visited a famous elder and was surprised to see that the elder’s apartment had just one room packed with icons and books. A desk and a stool were the only items of furniture.
– Where’s your furniture?- the American asked in disbelief.
– And yours?
– What do you mean, my furniture? I’m on a trip. I’m a tourist!
– I’m a tourist, too, – the elder replied.

At Paris there lived a great merchant and worthy man called Jeannot de Chivigni, a dealer in silk, and an intimate friend to a certain rich Jew, whose name was Abraham, a merchant also, and a very honest man. Jeannot, being no stranger to Abraham's good and upright intentions, was greatly troubled that the soul of so wise and well-meaning a person should perish through his unbelief. He began, therefore, in the most friendly manner, to entreat him to renounce the errors of Judaism, and embrace the truth of Christianity, which he might plainly see flourishing more and more, and as being the most wise and holy institution, gaining ground, whereas the religion of the Jews was dwindling to nothing. Abraham answered, that he esteemed no religion like his own; he was bom in it, and in it he intended to live and die; nor could anything make him alter his resolution.

All this did not hinder Jeannot from beginning the same arguments over again in a few days, and setting forth, in as awkward a manner as a merchant must be supposed to do, for what reasons our religion ought to be preferred; and though the Jew was well read in their law, yet, whether it was his regard to the man, or that Jeannot had the spirit of God upon his tongue, he began to be greatly pleased with his arguments; but continued obstinate, nevertheless, in his own creed, and would not suffer himself to be converted. Jeannot, on the other hand, was no less persevering in his earnest solicitations, insomuch that the Jew was overcome by them

at last, and said: " Look you, Jeannot, you are very desirous I should become a Christian, and I am so much disposed to do as you would have me, that I intend in the first place to go to Rome, to see him whom you call God's vicar on earth, and to consider his ways a little, and those of his brother cardinals. If they appear to me in such a light that I may be able to comprehend by them, and by what you have said, that your religion is better than mine, as you would persuade me, I will then become a Christian; otherwise I will continue a Jew as I am."

When Jeannot heard this he was much troubled, and said to himself: "I have lost all my labour, which I thought well bestowed, expecting to have converted this man; for should he go to Rome, and see the wickedness of the clergy there, so far from turning Christian, were he one already, he would certainly again become a Jew."

The Jew took horse, and made the best of his way to Rome, where he was most honourably received by his brethren, the Jews; and, without saying a word of what he was come about, he began to look narrowly into the manner of living of the pope, the cardinals, and other prelates, and of the whole court… Now thinking he had seen enough, he returned home.

As soon as Jeannot heard of his arrival he went to see him, thinking of nothing so little as of his conversion. They received one another with a great deal of pleasure; and in a day or two, after the traveller had recovered from his fatigue, Jeannot began to inquire of him what he thought of the holy father, the cardinals, and the rest of the court? The Jew immediately answered: "To me it seems as if God was much kinder to them than they deserve; for, if I may be allowed to judge, I must be bold to tell you, that I have neither seen sanctity, devotion, or anything good in the clergy of Rome; but, on the contrary, luxury, avarice, gluttony, and worse than these, if worse things can be, are so much in fashion with all sorts of people, that I should rather esteem the court of Rome to be a forge, if you allow the expression, for diabolical operations than things divine; and, for what I can perceive your pastor, and consequently the rest, strive with their whole might and skill to overthrow the Christian religion, and to drive it from off the face of the earth, even where they ought to be its chief succour and support. But as I do not see this come to pass, which they so earnestly aim at; on the contrary, that your religion gains strength, and becomes every day more glorious; I plainly perceive that it is upheld by the Spirit of God, as the most true and holy of all. For which reason, though I continued obstinate to your exhortations, nor would suffer myself to be converted by them, now I declare to you, that I will no longer defer being made a Christian. Let us go then to the church, and do you take care that I be baptized according to the manner of your holy faith."

The Decameron, Novel II (1352-1354)
By Giovanni Boccaccio

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.

Translated from: https://azbyka.ru/days/