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The Golden Throne

A new parable.
(No, it doesn’t fall through the floor and squash him.)
by Fr. Joseph K. Horn

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a very good king. He was the king of a small country that was very poor, so he lived in a tiny hut and used a simple wooden chair for his throne. He was wise and kind, and people came from all over the world to visit him in his humble hut. They would ask for his advice and listen with rapt admiration to his gentle words of wisdom. They would always say to one another, “Oh, look at his eyes! They shine with goodness! And look at his white hair! He looks as wise as his words! And look at his face! How fortunate we are to have such a kind and good king!”

But one day, a prince visiting from another country told the people, “Yes, but look at that pathetic throne!” He then said to the king, “Oh great king, you deserve to sit on a better throne than this simple wooden chair! You should have a real throne, made of gold and jewels!”

“Why?” said the king. “Could I sit better on a golden chair than on a wooden chair?”

“No,” said the prince, “you don’t understand. A throne is the symbol of being a king. It tells the world who you are!”

“But the world already knows who I am,” the king said.

“You are right,” said the prince. “You are very wise, and very humble. May you live long and may your land prosper.”

When the prince departed, the people standing within earshot began to talk to one another. “The prince is right. Our king deserves a real throne. Let’s put all our money together and buy him a golden throne!”

After a long time and much saving and sacrificing, the poor people finally collected enough money. They gave the money to the finest craftsman in the world, and he made a throne more beautiful than any throne that had ever been made before. It was solid gold, and covered with hundreds of diamonds and rubies and sapphires and emeralds and the finest filigree ever seen. It sparkled and glowed, even in the starlight.

The people presented the new golden throne to their king. “Oh great king,” they said, “please accept this gift of a new throne, which we your humble servants saved and sacrificed to have made so that you could have a throne worthy of your fame!”

For a few minutes the poor king was thunderstruck and speechless, but at last he graciously accepted their generous gift and placed the glorious golden throne in the middle of his tiny hut. As he sat upon it, he wondered what visitors would say about his new throne.

That very afternoon a princess from another country came to visit. As she stepped into the hut, her eyes were caught by the intense glow coming from the throne. “Oh, my!” she exclaimed. “What a beautiful throne! Nowhere in the world is there a throne as beautiful as this throne! Just look at its legs! They are solid gold and thick and strong! And look at the back of the throne! It is so brilliant with jewels that every beam of light is captured and released in a thousand rays! The very rainbow in the heavens must be jealous of this golden throne! How fortunate am I to be able to look upon such intense beauty!” The princess’ eyes filled with tears of happiness. Overwhelmed, she fell to her knees and covered her face with her hands.

The king was pleased to hear her words of praise. “I’m glad you like it,” he said gently.

The princess quickly looked up and wiped her eyes. “Who said that?” she asked, bewildered.

“I did,” said the king. “I’m glad you like the throne.”

“Oh,” said the princess. Then she squinted and looked at him as hard as she could, and said, “Well, whoever you are, please step aside; you’re blocking my view of the throne.”

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