Seven Parables and Stories for the Week: Issue 16

There were two monks who fell prey to lust and left their monastery. In the meantime they started saying to one another, “What's the use for us in falling into this fornication and giving up on our monastic living? We will have to suffer hellfire and torment. Let us return to the desert.”

As soon as they returned, they confessed what they had done and asked the elders to give them a penance. The elders decreed that they had to spend a year in confinement on bread and water. The monks looked exactly the same weight.

When the penance period was over, they were discharged from the confinement, and the elders were surprised to see one of the monks sad and pale, while the other had a joyful and radiant face. It was a surprise because the monks had eaten the same amounts of food. So the elders asked the sad brother, “What have you been thinking about in your cell?”

“I was thinking,” he said, “about the wrongdoings that I had committed, and about the torment that I was destined to, and by reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin (Ps. 101:5).

The elders went on to ask the other monk, “What have you been thinking of in your cell?”

He replied, “I was thanking God for setting me free from the iniquity of the world and from future suffering and for bringing me back to this Angelic lifestyle, and, as I was thinking of God, I was excited.” The elders stated, “Both kinds of repentance are equal in the eyes of God.”

Long time ago, an old man was talking with his grandson. This was what he said:
— There is a war inside each person's heart, which resembles a fight between two wolves. One of the wolves represents the evil: jealousy, envy, self-pity, egoism, arrogance, and dishonesty. The other wolf represents the good: peace, love, hope, truth, kindness, and loyalty.
The boy was moved by his grandfather's words. He thought about it for a while and then asked:
— Which of the wolves will win in the end?
The old man smiled and responded:
— The wolf whom you feed will always win.

A barber told his client:
– If there is a God, why are there so many ill people? Where do homeless orphans and unjust wars come from? If there really was a God, there would be no suffering and no pain. It is hard to imagine a loving and omnipotent God who lets all these things to happen. That's why I don't believe that there is a God.
The client replied:
– You know what? There are no barbers.
– Why? – the barber exclaimed. – One of them is in front of you and you can see me.
– No! – the client protested. – There are no barbers, or else there weren't so many unshaven and uncut people like that man over there walking down the road.
– Well, my dear, it isn't the barbers’ problem! People simply don't come to me.
– That's right! – the client nodded. – That's exactly what I want to say: There is a God! People just don't look for him and don't come to him. That's why there is so much suffering in the world.

There were some monks who were discussing humility. A noble man from Gaza heard them say that the closer one gets to God, the more sinful he considers himself to be. He was amazed:
— How can that be?
He was eager to know what these words meant.
One of the monks replied:
— Sir, who do you think you are in your town?
The noble man answered:
— I think I am the greatest and the most important man in my town.
— What if you go to Caesarea, what would you think of yourself?
— I would consider myself to be the last of the gentry.
— Who would you be in Antioch then?
— I'd be counted among the commoners.
— What if you go to Constantinople to the Emperor's Court, who would you be?
— I’d consider myself a tramp.
— This is how saints look at it. — the monk said, — the closer they get to God, the more sinful they feel. When Abraham saw the Lord, he called himself dirt and ashes.

Before the dismissal, a priest announced:
– Next Sunday, I'll be talking with you about lies. Please read the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 17, to understand what I'll be speaking about.
The next Sunday, before he started preaching, the priest ordered:
– Those of you who have read the seventeenth chapter of Mark, please raise your hands.
Almost all the parishioners raised their hands.
– You are the very people who I would like to talk to about lies. – the priest commented. – There is no such chapter in the Gospel of Mark.

A novice asked his elder:
— Is it true that happiness is not the same as having a lot of money?
The elder confirmed that it was totally true. This is how he proved his point: you can buy a bed but not a healthy sleep; you can buy food but not appetite; drugs but not health; slaves but not friends; women but not love; a house but not a home; entertainment but not fun; education but not wisdom. And the list is incomplete.
There was a man who did not believe in God and was never shy to tell everybody about his attitude towards religion. His wife, on the contrary, believed in God and reared their children in the faith in spite of the rancid remarks of her husband.

One winter night, the wife and the children went to a village church, expecting to hear a sermon about the Nativity of Christ. The wife invited her husband to go to the church with them but he declined. “All that story is absurd.” – he said. – “Why would God need to humiliate himself and appear on earth as a man? It's ridiculous!”

His wife and children left, and he was alone. After a while, a strong wind started blowing and a snowstorm broke out. The man looked into the window but all he could see was endless snow. He sat comfortably in the chair and prepared to spend the rest of the evening in front of the fireplace. All of a sudden, he heard a loud clap: something hit his window. He came closer to the window but he was unable to see anything. When the blizzard somewhat faded, he went outdoors to see what had caused the loud noise. He saw a flock of wild geese in the field near his house. They were heading south but got caught up in the snowstorm and could not go any further. They lost their way and found themselves at his farm without food or shelter. They were flying low above the field, blinded by the snow. It must have been one of those geese that knocked into the man's window. He sympathized with the poor birds and decided to help them. He thought that the cowshed was the most suitable place for them. It was warm and safe, and they could easily spend the night in the cowshed and wait for the blizzard to stop. He went to the cowshed and opened its doors wide. He was standing there, waiting for the geese to walk into the cowshed.

However, the geese were flying around in circles and apparently didn't notice the open cowshed door or didn't understand what it was for. The man tried to catch their attention but he only scared the geese. The man went back home and returned with a loaf of bread. He scattered breadcrumbs along the road leading to the cowshed. The geese didn't fall for it, either.

The poor man was on the brink of despair. He sneaked up on the geese from behind and tried to drive them to the cowshed but the geese were even more terrified and started flying in all directions, except the direction of the cowshed. There was nothing that could make them go to the cowshed, where they could be warm and safe. “Why don't the geese follow me?” the man exclaimed. “Can't they see that it's the only place where they can survive during this blizzard?” He stood there thinking and realised that the geese simply didn't want to follow a human being. “If only I were a goose, I could have saved them,” the man said aloud. He came up with a brilliant idea. He went to his cowshed, took one of his geese and brought it into the field, far from the wild geese who were flying in circles. He released the goose. The goose flew through the flock of wild geese and returned to the cowshed. One by one, all other geese followed him.

The man stood there quietly, and all of a sudden he once again heard the words that he had uttered moments before, “If I were a goose, I could save them.” Then he recalled the words he had said to his wife earlier, “Why would God become like us? It's ridiculous!” Suddenly, it dawned on him that it was precisely what God had done. We used to be like those geese: blind, forlorn, and doomed. God sent his son to become like one of us, so that He could show us the way to salvation.

When the wind and the blinding snow started to calm down, his soul was also relieved and comforted by this wonderful thought. He suddenly realised why Jesus had come. Years of doubt and disbelief dissipated together with the snowstorm. He fell to his knees in the snow and said his first prayer ever, “Thank you Lord for coming to this world in human form to deliver me from the tempest!”

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