There is an old, tired preacher’s story about a wealthy man who had an amazing private art collection with works by Monet, Picasso, and Gauguin. The man only one child, a son who was killed in Vietnam.
Shut in his mansion in grief, he was surprised one day when a young soldier around his son’s age appeared at his door. The young man quickly explained that he not only had known the old man’s son, but the son had died in battle while saving the soldier’s life.
Shyly, the young man explained that his fellow soldier had told him of his father’s love for art, so the only thing he could think of to express his gratitude for his son’s sacrifice was to paint his son’s portrait.
He apologized for not being much of an artist, but the old man wept at how the small painting captured his boy’s quirky, joyful energy. He immediately removed a masterpiece and hung the painting over the mantle.
A few months later, the old man died with no heirs, so his art collection was put up for auction. People came from far and wide for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own works by these great artists.
As the auction began, a lawyer explained that they would start by bidding on the small portrait of the man’s son that the soldier had painted. People were outraged. They had come for great art, and they were ready to get on with it. This piece wasn’t even well framed.
Finally, someone bid $10. The auctioneer tried to get $20, but the bidder explained that he was the family gardener and had known and loved the boy, who used to play in his gardens. Ten dollars was all the money he had on him. Someone in the back angrily shouted, “Give it to him for $10, and get on with the real art.” So, the auctioneer brought down the gavel.
The old man’s lawyer then stood up and pronounced the auction finished. He explained that a clause in the will stipulated that whoever took the son got the entire collection. The old man wanted it to go to someone who valued what he really valued.
I think that is how it is with the Artist of Creation. You can be sure your life is a true work of art if it is painted with colors of compassion, mercy, grace, and justice. That is the palate used by the Artist whose greatest work we call Jesus.
Rev. Michael Piazza