The Death Of Richard Lionheart
Scheduled for June 1
you are like I am, there is nothing quite so entertaining to watch as a good
swashbuckler. Recall if you can all those pictures you saw about Robin Hood.
It’s a story that’s been used many times in Hollywood. We forget that while
Robin Hood is a bit shadowy as a historical figure, “good King Richard” was
Richard, the Lionheart. As Winston Churchill said, “When Richard’s
contemporaries called him ‘Couer de Lion” they paid a lasting compliment to the
king of beasts. Little did the English people owe him for his services, and
heavily did they pay for his adventures. He was in England only twice for a
few short months in his ten years’ reign; yet his memory has always stirred
concern here is not for his life, but the manner of his dying. In 1199, in a
dispute over treasure, he laid siege to a castle in Chaluz, France. He was
wounded in the shoulder by an arrow. Gangrene set in, and he knew that death
was at hand. He arranged matters in accordance with the principles by which he
had lived, dividing his belongings among friends and charity. The archer who
shot him was now a prisoner, and Richard pardoned him, and gave him a gift of
thing that interests me most is this: for seven years prior to his death,
Richard had not been to confession (he was a Catholic, as were all Christians
in Western Europe at that time) nor taken communion for that seven years.
Why? Because he knew that at confession he would be obliged to admit his
hatred for Philip, the King of France -- and would then be compelled by his
faith to be reconciled to his mortal enemy.
a great man’s life we may see a mirror of our own. How many of us approach
communion hoping that God will let sleeping worms lie? Wanting so much not to
be reminded of the grudge we hold, or the vengeance we want to take, or the
secret sin that lies hidden in our minds -- known only to God and to
ourselves. We mutter a prayer, hoping that God will let us by one more week
without having to face ourselves as He sees us. Gradually, we hope, the nerve
endings will become numb, and we will no longer hear the still small voice
telling us, “Confess your sins to me, and be clean.”
at least played the man. He put it off as long as he could, but when the time
came, he took it with calm courage -- and reconciliation. He forgave Philip;
indeed he even forgave the archer who had shot the bolt that was to kill him.
I wonder how many of us could forgive our killer.
there is something in your life this morning that stands between you and God,
get it out. Richard knew the hour of his death; you and I do not. Would you
walk from his house without reconciliation and forgiveness?
at his death, forgave even the man who killed him. His knights were not so
charitable after his death. The archer was flayed alive. Choose you this day
whom you will serve.