Fisher King and Christ the King
Nov 29, 2017
We are a culture that is impressed with Royalty…who of us does not sometimes day-dream of having a real castle as one’s home with all the wealth, fame, power and status that go with it. The media often does a good job creating a fairy-tale mystique to Royalty that inspires within us that happily ever after desire.
We apply the term King to people who we idolize like Elvis Presley or larger than life creatures like King Kong…we are a people of go big or go home…that is until we arrive at this particular celebration of Christ the King that we realize what true Kingship is all about and the nature of our own precious Royal Dignity.
And to better understand the obligation that is bound to this dignity, the story of another King may suffice inspired by the King Arthur legend called the Fisher King:
The story begins with the king as a boy, having to spend the night alone in the forest to prove his courage so he can become king.
Now while he is spending the night alone he's visited by a sacred vision. Out of the fire appears the holy grail, symbol of God's divine grace. And a voice said to the boy,
"You shall be keeper of the grail so that it may heal the hearts of men."
But the boy was blinded by greater visions of a life filled with power and glory and beauty.
And in this state of radical amazement he felt for a brief moment not like a boy, but invincible, like God, ... so he reached into the fire to take the grail, ... and the grail vanished, ... leaving him with his hand in the fire to be terribly wounded.
Now as this boy grew older, his wound grew deeper.
Until one day, life for him lost its reason. ... He had no faith in any man, not even himself. ... He couldn't love or feel loved. ... He was sick with experience. He began to die.
One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn't see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king,
"What ails you friend?"
The king replied,
"I'm thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat".
So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king.
As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life.
And he turned to the fool and said with amazement,
"How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?"
And the fool replied, "I don't know. I only knew that you were thirsty."
When we were baptized…we were anointed with the Chrism of Salvation upon the top of our heads…the crown…where of course one places a King or Queen’s Crown. As this power of the Holy Spirit is applied the Priest recites the following prayer:
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and welcomed you into His holy people. He now anoints you with the Chrism of Salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of His Body, sharing everlasting life.
A member of His body…as today’s Gospel clearly indicates…the Body of Christ is all of Humanity…His Body is the Church…whatever we do to ourselves and each other…however we think, feel and act impacts not only me personally and all of humanity collectively but Jesus Christ who is God specifically. I cannot imagine a more sobering reality.
And rather than look to the glitz, glamor and paparazzi of life and be impressed by celebrity status…we need to look to Calvary…and be reminded of not only who Christ is but who we are. Though watching the news can be depressing, there is a necessity to doing so.
For example, in the recent shootings at the Egyptian Mosque…over 300 people lost their lives with thousands more mourning them for praying to the same God we do: Though with different beliefs do we recognize them as our brothers and sisters?
Do we feel a supernatural sympathy and sorrow that is Christ-like from His throne at Calvary, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Sandy Hook, Egypt or any number of streets where there are homeless people or nursing homes, hospitals etc where people are suffering and often alone?
As Saint Theresa of Calcutta once remarked:
“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.
There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger and thirst for God.”
From His throne at Calvary did not Jesus look upon the whole world, every time, place and people and person and say I thirst…His thirst is our thirst for the love, joy and healing that only God can bring.
As much as we thirst for God…in Christ…God thirsts for us…for our love, our attention, our prayers, our pain, and especially all our sins. No Cross, No Crown no Glory. Christ’s Crown is not made of jewels but of thorns…the pain of all our sufferings and agonies.
And the Holy Grail is no mere symbol of God’s Divine Grace it is God’s Divine Grace in the most incredible fashion and from this grail all our thirsts are satisfied…all our hurts healed…our souls filled with infinite love.
When supper was ended He took the Chalice, the Holy Grail and once more giving thanks He gave it to His disciples saying…take this all of you and drink from it…this is the chalice of my blood…the blood of the new and everlasting covenant which will be poured out for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven…do this in memory of me.
More precious than any Grail or Jeweled Chalice to hold the precious blood of Jesus Christ is our own bodies. We are to be His Holy Grail in this world…but if we are not filled with knowledge of Christ…with a desire to pray to Him worship Him and receive Him in Holy Communion…our Chalice…our hearts will remain empty and/or broken and the world…humanity will continue to slowly die from thirst and starvation.
Symbols are no substitutes for the realities they signify. The Eucharist is truly and completely the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ…and our bodies are truly Temples of the Holy Spirit where in receiving Christ and filled with Christ we may then give Christ to the world.
Especially as Catholics we are keepers of the Grail, because we are keepers of Christ that we may heal the hearts of men, beginning with our own…for He is a King who He says He e has come not to be served but to serve and from His throne at Calvary He serves to us Himself…All the power of His divinity and all the power of our human weakness…so that in serving others as He did and does…He may say to us with every breath we take:
Well done my good and faithful servant come inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world and are not kingdoms meant for Kings and Queens…for whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to ME.