"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Story of the Generous King

magine that a great king comes into a city he loves and for which he has shed his blood. He sends heralds throughout the city inviting every citizen to come to him personally with a request for whatever favor he so desires. For this purpose he grants a general audience at which each citizen might approach him with a request for whatever is on his heart.

On the appointed day, the king, arrayed in royal vesture, is seated upon an elevated golden throne surrounded by dignitaries in splendid court dress. The citizens enter and one by one each freely makes known his request. And what do you think? One asks the king for a small sum of money. The request is granted. Another asks the king that an enclosure be built around his property, to which the king nods in assent. A third, a woman, asks that her son receive a position at the court. With a sigh the king replies, "That can be done." Meanwhile, the court secretary is recording the king's favors in order that they might be fulfilled. Another person, complaining of an illness, asks the king to send him his court physician to which the king also gives his consent. All the requests are very modest and are fulfilled by the king. He grants each according to his request. And everyone is pleased except the king, who is sorrowful.

Finally, there comes a pauper. He has tried his best to clean his clothes and to appear before the king in a manner as fitting as his poverty allows. Falling at the feet of the king and weeping, he beseeches him, "O great king, I entreat thee to give me a place in thy kingdom, that I may partake of thy radiance and greatness; grant me to live in thy court, grant me splendid apparel worthy of being in thy presence, and likewise grant me a shining crown on my head, and the joy of being with thee forever in eternal love, and grant me the delight of gazing upon thee. Also, O Good One, receive me as one of thy sons!"
At this bold request, the other citizens begin murmuring amongst themselves: "How dare this wretch address the king with such brazen demands? The king will surely punish him." But the king arises from his throne, covers the pauper with his robe of royal purple, and places upon his head a gold crown studded with precious stones. Turning to the rest of those gathered, he says, "This man has acted rightly. I came here in order to shower you with favors, but you have made such paltry, insignificant requests... Of course, you will receive what you have asked. I am generous and I love you. However, this pauper is wiser than all of you. He understands that I am truly generous and wealthy, and that I have come in order to give you what is truly great. He asked this great boon of me and he will be given it. I am bestowing upon him my grace."

And so, emulate this wise pauper and ask the Heavenly King to grant you this mercy – the grace of the Holy Spirit. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord (Matt. 25:21).


Reflections of a Humble Heart: A fifteenth-century text on the spiritual life Richfield Springs, New York: Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 2007), 95-97.

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