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"Parables About the Elder Zosima"

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Parable about Prayer, Repentance, and Miracles Performed by God

“When someone has stumbled and

is trying to get up —

God certainly holds out a helping Hand.

But if this person keeps lying —

God has to wait.

The help comes when the one
who is looking for the salvation

works tirelessly.”

Ngomo


There lived the elder Zosima in a monastery, and a rumor circulated that miraculous healings happened by his prayers.

A lot of people came from distant places to ask for his help.

Monastic brethren were proud that their monastery had such an elder.

But there were also many of those who envied, thinking: “Why does God not hear our prayers no matter how much we pray? We make so many bows, but all in vain! Yet God somehow accepts the prayers of this elder…”

Once a young novice decided to find out how Zosima performed wonders and why God listened to him. He thought that since the elder was kind, he might teach him…

He came to the elder and asked:

“Why do your prayers perform miracles, but ours don’t? Teach me your secrets! What if you die suddenly, who will glorify our monastery then?!”

The elder looked kindly at him and said:

“It’s hard to explain… I would say that I don’t pray at all…

“It’s just necessary to kindle in the human heart the light similar to that of a candle or of an icon-lamp!

“This light originates from love.

“And one can expand this light of the soul up to immensity, like the light of the Sun!

“And then — the Great Light of the Holy Spirit appears and is ready to help! And I can see everything inside that Living Divine Light, as if there were no walls of my cell and as if there were no towers of the monastery. And inside this Light, every human body can be seen through and every soul can be understood regardless of distance.

“It happens like this: I just need to start saying the words of the prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit, and It comes! The Light of God begins to flow like a river and embrace everything with Itself!

“This Light understands the love of the heart but not the words muttered by a person!

“You ask how miracles occur… When the soul merges with this Light, I stop distinguishing where my love is and where — God’s Love!

“In the River of Light, there are numerous Arms. It seems that they are mine but at the same time not mine fully…

“I see those Arms of God That do His Work! Just as the arms of a ploughman or cook do their work so the similar Arms of the Holy Spirit work!

“It is these Arms That can heal. If the Holy Spirit wants, I can — with these Arms — cleanse filth and diseases from the bodies. But if the Holy Spirit do not want — I can’t move even a finger tip.

“Inside this Light of God, I can see diseases in the body of a sick person and vices in the soul.

“However, not every soul can be cleansed, not everyone can be helped…

“The soul needs to be taught to love first! Otherwise, later it may become a debtor of God for that miracle!”

… Zosima said this and smiled gently.

But the young novice, in fright of the elder, fell to his knees and set his head against the floor… Then, crossing himself devoutly, he jumped out of the cell…

Zosima sighed quietly: it seems that again not that man had come, whom God was talking about… This novice did not want to know about the warmth of the heart or about the spiritual heart love…

So many years had passed already since Zosima began to look for a worthy disciple…

* * *

A lot of people with questions came to the elder Zosima.

He tried to help everyone not only through the healing of the body or through giving advice on how to resolve this or that problem in life, but mostly through correcting the path of the soul before the Face of the Lord.

One day a rich merchant came to him and asked to heal his little daughter, saying:

“I’m despaired! You are my last hope, the holy elder! Help me! My child is dying!”

Zosima answered:

“It is not I who heals! The Lord helps each soul!

“How does the Lord help? He helps, among other ways, through people that live on the Earth.

“Have you heard about Jesus Christ? Through Him — God has helped a lot of people.

“But through you — has God helped anyone?”

“I’m a sinner, holy elder, I’ve never even thought about this in that way!… All my thoughts were only about my profits and benefits…”

“So — think now!

“And always ponder ahead on what the Lord wants from you!

“Now go home, your daughter will be well again!

“And build a free hospital with your money, call good doctors there to work for God!

“Besides, when your daughter is recovered fully — bring her to me!”

… Wiping his tears, the merchant began to thank him.

The elder said to him kindly:

“Hurry to do in your life that good which you forgot about!

“And remember this for the future! Otherwise, something worse may happen!

“God has helped you — and now you should help others!

“And learn to understand what is good and how it’s possible to do it!

“Maybe, your words and actions will be a helping Hand of God stretched to others! God does the good and miracles through the kindness of many people!”

* * *

Time had passed, and the merchant brought his healed little daughter to the elder.

The girl came to the cell but forgot how she had been taught to express her gratitude and just said:

“Was it you who cured me, Grandpa? Thank you! I was very-very sick but now am very healthy!”

“Good day to you, my child! But it was not I who healed you but God! So you should thank Him always!”

“Yes, I know! God — He is kind!” — the girl nodded.

“Yes! And now you can learn to be kind too, like God! Try!

“Can you hear how your heart is beating in your chest? It is God reminding you that a soul is created for love and kindness!

“So, learn to be gentle and affable towards everyone! And learn to help everyone!

“While you are little, your help isn’t big; however, it is still very important! And when you grow up — you will be able to help many people!”

“I understood this, Grandpa! I felt myself bad-bad for a long time, but now I’m good! And I will try to do good for others too!”

The girl ran up to the elder Zosima and embraced him.

… Many years had passed since then, but the girl never forgot that a life on the Earth is given to us by God to cultivate love and give this love to others! And — through this — she was opening and expanding more and more her spiritual heart! And she lived embracing with her love-care everything and everyone.

* * *

Once, a middle-aged woman came to the cell of the elder Zosima. She was crying and pleading:

“Give me back the love of my only son! I’ve dedicated all my life to him, giving him all that he wanted! But he grew up, and now he doesn’t even want to remember me!… I am left alone! I feel so bitter because of his ingratitude with which he paid me for all I had done for him! I can’t hold resentment, I can’t stop being sad!…”

“Don’t grieve! Think better: did you love your son as God wants us to love people?

“If children receive only material help from their parents and are not taught to care for others, then these children forget quickly the good done for them and grow ungrateful!

“Love does not consist only in providing pleasure for someone!

“Pleasure is not always useful for a soul! And the useful is not always pleasant!

“To do what is good is not the same as to give a person immediately what he or she wants!

“It is wrong to indulge others in their desires! It means to harm the soul, not to do what is good!

“Everyone should not only give love to others but also awake in them the desire to give love and to do good, as well as to restrain from angry words and to say only good ones!

“You brought up your son badly! You spoiled him, pandering to his whims! You turned him away from love by your everyday reproaches and boring admonitions! You diverted him away from the good commandments!

“Now I tell you these sad words — which are like bitter medicine — to help you to understand your mistakes and try to rectify them!”

The woman sobbed even more:

“Will God forgive me for my sins?!”

“Forgiveness comes when we have realized what was sinful in us, and have changed ourselves and corrected the consequences of our wrong actions!

“Only having changed ourselves first, can we make better something around us!

“There is some hope for you now! Soon your son will come to you and ask for your advice and help. He fell in love with a widow; she is much older than he is. She has a child from her previous husband. Through this love — God wants to help your son learn to care not about himself only but about others!

“It’s not simple for one to change oneself… It’s not simple to transform small love into the great all-embracing love!

“The happiness of the child who is growing with that woman has to turn into the happiness for all of you!”

… He said this — and the woman went home with a slight hope and with the thoughts about the most important…

* * *

Thus Zosima talked with people.

But it also happened sometimes that he did not let people with nefarious intentions even enter his cell…

And through this, those people also began to ponder over the fact that if the holy elder did not admit them, then God rejects them too because of their unjust life…

And due to this, they became afraid of their uncleanness and changed. And if such people came again looking — this time sincerely — for the advice of the elder about how to atone their sins, Zosima received them kindly and gave them some simple and clear advice.

“Yet to fulfill this advice, people had to transform themselves, that is, to stop living idly and start working diligently by the soul and by the body. To work by the soul meant to cultivate love in oneself and eliminate anger, hatred, jealousy, and sadness. To work by the body meant to try to make the lives of others at least a little bit better.

Even for those who were in despair, Zosima found supporting words that brought them to their senses:

“There is no sin or vice which a person can’t get rid of!

“Even if someone has suffered the spiritual fall — God is always ready to help those who have stumbled and want to get up!

“A disease or other problem in life is given to us for the healing of the soul and of the body! Diseases and troubles are needed to enlighten those who do not understand the Plan of God for them. These things make possible the purification of souls!

“We are weak and infirm in this world while we haven’t known the Love of God. This Love is the greatest Power in the universe and can be near us and in us always!

“How good it would be if everyone lived with the Love of Christ in his or her spiritual heart!…”

* * *

Once, a man came to the elder Zosima. He was neither young nor old. He had a strong body and was a strong soul. But he got lost in the midst of the affairs that did not bring satisfaction to the soul. Since his youth, he had dreamed about something great and high… He boldly lived fighting for the truth… But he did not always understand what was the truth and what was not… And many of his plans failed… And many times he became aware that he was not doing what he should be doing… That is why it was hard for him to live now, and he did not know how to live further and what for…

The man told his story to the elder Zosima. It was similar to the stories of many others whom the elder usually listened to… Nevertheless, there was a great difference: this man cared not about himself but tried to live for others, helping others!

“And thus almost the whole life has passed… I wished to do so many things, dreamed so much about something beautiful… But in reality it turned out that all were in vain: hasn’t changed anything, hasn’t really helped anyone… And now how to live — I don’t know… Teach me if you can…” — with these words the traveler finished his story.

“All that wasn’t in vain! Through what you did in your life you became wiser and stronger! In this way God led you to Himself!

“So, are you ready now to devote your whole life to the Lord alone?”

… At this point Zosima began telling this man about the purpose of human life, about the Great Divine Love…

The man stayed with the elder. He learned from Zosima the silence of the heart, in which the fire of love kindles. He also learned to merge with the Holy Spirit and to do everything being in conscious Unity with God and as Service for Him…

* * *

Could the elder Zosima help many people? Only God knows… But the Power was in his words. And the advice that he gave stayed in the memory for a long time. People directed their sights of souls to God and their actions to help other people. And through this, God could participate in their lives.

 
 

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