Today's Gospel reading
reminded me of this story. I was able to find it online. Enjoy!
Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young
son, shared a passion for collecting art. Together they traveled around
the world, buying only the finest art treasures. Priceless works by
Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family
estate. The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction as his only
child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and
sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt
with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed
the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a
few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was
missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news,
fearing he would never see his son again. Within days, his fears were
confirmed, the young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a
medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man viewed the upcoming Christmas
holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, that he and
his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer.
On Christmas morning a knock on the door awakened the depressed, old
man. As he walked to the door, the expensive masterpieces of art on the
walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened
the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands.
He introduced himself to the man by saying, "I was a friend of your
son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few
moments? I have something to show you." As the old man began unwrapping
the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of his deceased
son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the
painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with
emotion, he thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above
the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the
old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above
the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of art. His task
completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at
the gift he had been given.
During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even
though his son was no longer with him, the boy's life would live on
because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had
rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring
heart. As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach him, and
fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief, the painting
of his son became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest
in the expensive pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He
told his neighbors his son's painting was the greatest gift he had ever
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The
art world was in anticipation that with the collector's passing, and his
only son dead, those paintings would be sold at auction. According to
the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on
Christmas Day, because on this day he had received his greatest gift.
The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world
gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings.
Dreams would be fulfilled this day - greatness would be achieved as many
would be able to claim, "I have the greatest collection." The auction
began with a painting that was not on any museum's list. It was the
painting of the man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but
the room was silent. "Who will open the bidding with $100?" he asked.
Minutes passed and no one spoke. Finally, from the back of the room
came a voice, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his
son. Let's forget about it and move on to the good stuff." Many voices
echoed in agreement.
"No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer. "Now
who will take the son?" Finally, a neighbor of the old man spoke. "Will
you take $10 for the painting? That's really all I have - and since I
knew the boy, I'd like to have the painting."
After more silence, the auctioneer said, "I have ten dollars, will
anyone go higher?" Then the auctioneer said, "Going once, Going twice,
Gone." The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed,
"Now we can get on with it and we can bid on the real treasures!" The
auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was
Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Then someone spoke up and asked,
"What do you mean, it's over? We didn't come here to bid on a picture
of some old guy's son. What about all of these other paintings? There
are millions of dollars worth of art here! I demand that you explain
what is going on!" Other voices raised in agreement.
The auctioneer raised his hand and the room quieted. He then
replied, "It's very simple. The attorney for this estate has indicated
that according to the father's will, whoever takes the son, gets
Life is an auction. We are the buyers. There are material things to
acquire and spiritual things to acquire. How often do we, as these art
dealers, quest after great material things which appear to have great
value, while spurning those spiritual things which seem inconsequential
but will later govern our eternal life? It doesn't seem like much of a
price to pay when we accept the love of Jesus Christ into our hearts. It
is free, and our expression of loyalty and obedience in return, almost
seems negligible. Perhaps we too need to discover once again, as these
art dealers, that when you have the Son, you have everything!
| Found online at http://www.cob-net.org/inspire/auction.htm