I Wish I’d Given Him Everything

by Fr Duncan McVicar on 13/06/2011 -

Once upon a time, there was a beggar, who used to sit at the gates of the great city. Along with all the other beggars, he would hold out his hands and beg for help and support. Sometimes people gave him a few coins, others would give him food or a little rice. He would collect the rice in the huge pocket of his shabby coat until he had enough for one warm meal. One day, the people of the city were told that a great king was passing by and he would stop at the gates to greet the people. All the citizens put on their best clothes and decorated their house with flags and banners. There was excitement everywhere as people waited impatiently for the arrival of the king. The beggar saw this as his biggest chance to get something. He positioned himself right at the city gates, making sure that he was in the first row. No-one and nothing would stop him meeting the king and asking for money or an expensive gift. This was a unique opportunity! At last, the king’s entourage could be seen approaching the city. The bells rang out, the music played and the people cheered enthusiastically. The king arrived on a beautiful white stallion and when he arrived at the gates of the city, he did something that no-one had expected or ever seen before. Instead of greeting the nobles and dignitaries of the city, the king called out to the beggar: “What will you give me? “The beggar was astounded and utterly speechless. He thought to himself: “Did the king say ‘what will you give me?’ But this cannot be, he is a king, he has everything, he is rich beyond imagination. I am no more than a poor beggar, I have nothing. It should be the other way around!” The king spoke again, looking at the beggar straight in the eye. “What will you give me?” he firmly asked again. The beggar put his hands in his huge pocket and took a single grain of rice from the quantity he had collected. “I will give him this”, he thought to himself, “then he will see how poor I am!” The king accepted the single grain of rice and then rode away. The beggar was angry and frustrated. “He gave me nothing”, he called out to the passers bye. “He gave me nothing, and asked ME for something! The beggar could not contain his anger. When he sat down, he put his hand in his huge pocket and felt a cold, hard grain. He pulled it out and it was a small and shiny piece of gold. The king had turned the beggar’s grain of rice into pure gold. His face fell with remorse and regret, and through his anguished tears, he said over and over again: “I wish I had given him everything!”



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