Parable on Wisdom. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, volume 3, pp. 616-622
...Even now the usual sentence of Jesus can be heard in defense of His little friends: "Leave them alone! Oh! they do not disturb Me! It is not children who cause trouble and grief!"
Jesus bends over them, with a bright smile that makes Him young, so that He almost looks like their older brother, a kind accomplice in some of their innocent amusements, and He whispers: "Be good and quiet, so they will not send you away, and we shall be able to be together a little longer."
"And will You tell us a nice parable?" asks the boldest one.
"Yes. One all for you. Then I will speak to your relatives. Listen, everybody. What is useful to the little ones is useful also to men.
A man one day was summoned by a great king who said to him: 'I heard that you deserve a prize because you are wise and you honor your town with your work and your science. Now, I will not give you this or that thing, but I will take you into the hall of my treasures and you will choose what you like, and I will give it to you. In this way I will also judge whether you are up to your fame.'
At the same time the king, approaching the terrace which surrounded his hall, cast a glance at the square in front of the royal palace and saw a poorly dressed boy pass by: a child of a very poor family, perhaps an orphan and a beggar. He turned to his servants saying: 'Go to that boy and bring him here.'
The servants went and came back with the child to appear in the presence of the king. Although the dignitaries of the court said to him: "Make a bow, salute, say: 'Honor and glory to you, my king. I bend my knee before you, powerful king whom the Earth exalts as the greatest being existing'", the boy refused to bow and repeat those words, and the scandalised dignitaries shook him rudely and said: 'O king, this dirty boorish boy is a dishonor in your abode. Let us drive him out of here into the street. If you wish to have a boy near you we will go and look for one among the rich people in town, if you are tired of our children, and we will bring him to you. But not this boorish fellow who does not even know how to greet a person!...'
The rich wise man, who had previously humiliated himself with many deep servile bows, as if he were before an altar, said: 'Your dignitaries are right. For the sake of the majesty of your crown you must ensure that your sacred person is given the homage due it' and while saying these words he prostrated himself to kiss the king's foot.
But the king said: "No. I want this boy. Not only that, but I want to take him as well into the hall of my treasures, so that he may choose what he wants and I will give it to him. I am perhaps not allowed, just because I am a king, to make a poor boy happy? Is he not my subject like each of you? Is it his fault he is unhappy? No, God be praised! I want to make him happy at least for once! Come, child, and be not afraid of me" and he stretched out his hand which the boy took with simplicity kissing it spontaneously. The king smiled. And between two rows of stooping dignitaries, on purple carpets with golden flowers, he turned his steps towards the treasure room, with the rich wise man on his right hand side, and the poor ignorant boy on his left. And the royal purple mantle contrasted strikingly with the frayed garment and the bare feet of the poor boy.
They went into the treasure room, the door of which was opened by two great men of the Court. It was a high, round, windowless room. But light flooded in through the ceiling made of a huge plate of mica. A mild light which, however made the gold knobs of safes shine brightly and the purple ribbons of many parchment rolls glow on high ornate reading-desks. Stately rolls, with precious rods, and clasps and labels adorned with shining stones. Rare works which only a king could possess. And, ignored on a grim dark low desk, a small parchment rolled on a white piece of wood, tied with a rustic thread, as dusty as a neglected thing.
The king said pointing at the walls: "Here are all the treasures of the Earth, and others which are even greater than earthly treasures. Because here are all the works of human genius, and there are also works coming from superhuman sources. Go and take whatever you wish." And he stood in the middle of the room, with folded arms, watching.
The rich wise man went first towards the safes and lifted their covers with more and more feverish anxiety. Gold bars and jewels, silver, pearls, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, opals... were shining in all the coffers... cries of admiration were heard as each one was opened... He then went to the reading-desks, and when reading the titles, his lips uttered new cries of admiration, and at last the man, highly enthusiastic, turned to the king and said: "You have an incomparable treasure: the stones equal the value of the rolls, and the rolls of the stones! Can I really make my choice freely?"
"I told you. As if everything belonged to you."
The man threw himself with his face on the ground saying: "I worship you, o great king!" And he got up and ran first to the coffers, then to the desks, taking from both the best things he saw.
The king, who had smiled a first time under his beard seeing the excitement with which the man ran from one coffer to another, and a second time seeing him throw himself on the ground worshipping, and a third time seeing the cupidity, the method and preferences by which he chose gems and books, addressed the boy who was standing beside him saying: "And are you not going to choose the beautiful stones and the valuable rolls?"
The boy shook his head in denial.
"Because with regard to the rolls, I cannot read them and as far as the stones are concerned...I do not know their value. They are nothing but little stones to me."
"But they would make you rich..."
"I have no father, no mother, no brother. Of what avail would it be to me to go to my shelter with a treasure in my bosom?"
"But you would be able to buy a house with it..."
"I would still be alone in it."
"You could buy clothes."
"I would still be cold without the love of relatives."
"I could not become satiated with my mother's kisses or buy them at any price."
"You could get teachers and learn to read..."
"I would like that better. But what could I read then?"
"The works of poets, philosophers, wise men... ancient words and the history of peoples."
"Useless things, either vain or past... Not worth it..."
"What a silly child!" exclaimed the man whose arms by now were full of rolls, and his belt and tunic round his chest were swollen with gems."
The king smiled once again under his beard. And taking the boy in his arms he carried him to the coffers, where he dipped his hand into the pearls, the rubies, the topazes, the amethysts, letting them drop like sparkling rain, tempting the boy to take some.
"No, king, I do not want any. I would like something else..."
The king took him to the desks and read stanzas of poets, episodes of heroes, descriptions of countries.
"Oh! it is beautiful to read. But that is not what I would like..."
"What, then? Tell me, and I will give it to you, my boy."
"Oh! I don't think you can, o king, notwithstanding your power. It is not a thing of this world..."
"Ah! you do not want works of the Earth. Here, then: here are the works which God dictated to His servants. Listen" and he read some of the inspired pages.
"That is much more beautiful. But to understand it properly, one must first know God's language well. Is there no book which teaches that, that can make us understand what is God?"
The king was quite astonished and did not laugh any more, but he pressed the boy to his heart.
The man instead laughed derisively saying: "Not even the wisest men know what God is, and you, an ignorant boy, want to know? If you want to become rich by that!..."
The king looked at him sternly while the little fellow replied: "I do not seek riches, I am seeking love and one day I was told that God is Love."
The king took him to the grim desk, where the little dusty roll tied with a string was. He picked it up, unrolled it and read the first lines: "Let little ones come to Me, and I, God, will teach them the science of love. It is in this book, and I..."
"Oh! that is what I want. I will know God and by having Him, I shall have everything. Give me this roll, o king, and I shall be happy."
"But it has no value moneywise. That boy is really foolish! He cannot read and he takes a book! He is not wise and he does not want to learn. He is poor and he does not take treasures."
"I will strive to possess love, and this book will teach me. May you be blessed, o king, because you are giving me something which will no longer make me feel a poor orphan!"
"At least worship him as I did, if you think you have become so happy through him!"
"I do not worship the man, but God Who made him so kind."