Here is a brief, innocent account taken from the life of Elder Ieronymos of Ægina (+1966), which was emailed to me this morning by Presbytera Candace Schefe of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Anchorage, Alaska. I'd like to share it with my readers, to let them know I'm still alive, though myself, I have nothing much to say right now.
One time a Turk visited the Elder in his humble cell. He said that his master, a judge, invited him to his house. The Elder was somewhat worried. He was not used to invitations for social visits, and he thought that something bad must have happened, a new test. He prayed to God however, and then he followed the servant.
When they arrived at the Turkish Judge’s mansion, the judge himself received him with great cordiality. They sat in the living room and the judge began the conversation:
‘Your Reverence, I am a Turk, a Moslem. But from the salary I take, I keep what is necessary for me and my family, and the rest I spend in charities. I help widows, orphans and the poor, I give dowries to destitute girls who are ready to get married, I assist the sick. I keep strictly the fasts, I pray, and generally I try to be conscientious in my faith. Also when I judge, I try to be impartial. I am not bought by anyone, no matter how high of a position one might have. Do you think that these things that I do, are sufficient to gain for me paradise, as you Christians call it?’
Fr. Vasilios was impressed by what the Turkish judge had told him, and his mind went immediately to the Centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). He discerned in them both parallel lives. He understood that he had before him a righteous and good-willing man, and perhaps his mission was the same with that of the Apostle Peter toward the Centurion. He therefore decided to give testimony to his faith.
‘Tell me, your Honor, do you have children?’
‘Yes I do.’
‘Do you have servants?’
‘Yes, I have servants also.’
‘Who obeys better your commands, your children or your servants?’
‘For sure my servants, because my children sometimes, with the confidence they have, disobey me and do whatever they want, but my servants do always whatever I tell them.’
‘Tell me, your Honor, when you will die, who is going to inherit you: Your servants, who obey faithfully your commands, or your children, who disobey you?’
‘My children of course. Only they have inheritance rights, not my servants.’
‘Well then, whatever you do, your Honor, is good, but it only puts you into the category of the good servant. If you want to inherit paradise, the kingdom of heaven, you must become a son. And this is accomplished only through baptism.’
The Turkish judge was impressed by the example that Fr. Vasilios related to him. They talked about many other things, and in the end he asked him to instruct him in the faith and to baptize him. Some time later the Turkish judge was baptized and became a Christian.