April 19, 2016

The Great Preacher

By Fr. Ephraim

Once an older priest went up to a remote village in order to comfort and support the weary. The village was perched on a cliff, a living painting, and there was a small church in the middle next to the fairytale-like stone houses. Behind the sanctuary of the church was the cemetery of the village with the oil lamps constantly lit uniting yesterday and today.

The old priest struck the bells of the church and the few villagers gathered to hear his comforting words, since their parts were at a distance and doomed to loneliness. Before the elder began to speak, the eyes of the villagers sparkled.

"You must come again to speak to us. We are orphaned of the word of God," said the eldest of the village. "It's been years since a priest came to speak to us about God."

But the priest did not appear to agree with the words of the elder of the village. After being silent at first, he then said:

"Yet, my brethren, next to your church I saw a preacher standing, and from what I have come to find out he has accompanied you with his words."

The villagers looked at each other and could not understand:

"What preacher does your holiness speak of, elder?"

"Well, it is your cemetery. It stands there in silence for years and teaches you about life, what ultimately is left behind when we squabble and are divided, what things we should be careful of and concern ourselves with. How much value the soul has. Where our riches really are."

The villagers now understood. Never did they view their cemetery as a lesson, a school, a teacher.

After the priest spoke with them for a while he gave them a blessing and left the village.

But the villagers were not in a rush to leave. They went to their distant brethren, asked forgiveness, gave forgiveness, and old rivalries were resolved.

From then on every morning their eyes turned to the cemetery, and were taught a lesson and heard the word of God from the preacher which lived beside them for years, while they waited for another from the big city.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.