Once there was a time, according to legend, when Ireland was
ruled by a king who had no son. The king sent out his
couriers to post notices in all the towns of his realm. The
notices advised that every qualified young man should apply
for an interview with the king as a possible successor to
the throne. However, all such candidates must have these two
qualifications: They must (1) love God and (2) love their
fellow human beings.
The Young man about whom this legend centers saw a notice
and reflected that he loved God and, also, his neighbors.
One thing stopped him, he was so poor that he had no clothes
that would be presentable in the sight of the king. Nor did
he have the funds to buy provisions for the long journey to
the castle. So the young man begged here, and borrowed
there, finally managing to scrounge enough money for the
appropriate clothes and the necessary supplies.
Properly attired and well-suited, the young man set out on
his quest, and had almost completed the journey when he came
upon a poor beggar by the side of the road. The beggar sat
trembling, clad only in tattered rags. His extended arms
pleaded for help. His weak voice croaked, "I'm hungry and
cold. Please help me... please?"
The young man was so moved by this beggar's need that he
immediately stripped off his new clothes and put on the
tattered threads of the beggar. Without a second thought he
gave the beggar all his provision as well. Then, somewhat
hesitantly, he continued his journey to the castle dressed
in the rags of the beggar, lacking provisions for his return
trek home. Upon his arrival at the castle, a king's
attendant showed him in to the great hall. After a brief
respite to clean off the journey's grime, he was finally
admitted to the throne room of the king.
The young man bowed low before his majesty. When he raised
his eyes, he gaped in astonishment. "You... it's you! You're
the beggar by the side of the road."
"Yes," the king replied with a twinkle, "I was that beggar."
"But...bu...bu... you are not really a beggar. You are the
king for real. Well, then, why did you do this to me?" the
young man stammered after gaining more of his composure.
"Because I had to find out if you genuinely love God and
your fellow human beings," said the king. "I knew that if I
came to you as king, you would have been impressed by my
gem-encrusted golden crown and my royal robes. You would
have done anything I asked of you because of my regal
character. But that way I would never have known what is
truly in your heart. So I used a ruse. I came to you as a
beggar with no claims on you except for the love in your
hear. And I discovered that you sincerely do love God and
your fellow human beings. You will be my successor,"
promised the king. "You will inherit my kingdom."