Feast day December 6th
Bishop of Myra
Generous to the poor, and special protector
of the innocent and wronged
Children around the world know and love St. Nicholas
for he brings gifts and treats in December.
He is known by different names
and even looks different from place to place.
But, it is the same St. Nicholas who delights
with small surprises and good things to eat.
Nicholas gave in secret, alert to others' needs,
and expecting nothing for himself in return.
It is this selfless generosity which seeks only the good of the
other that made Nicholas' gifts the gifts of a Saint.
Saint Nicholas was born in the Middle East about 350 miles
northwest of Bethlehem in the fourth century.
He grew up to become the bishop of Myra, his hometown, Lycia,
near the coast of what is now Turkey.
Legends tell of his love for children,his kindness and the
miracles he brought about.
Perhaps the most famous story of all tells how he helped
three unfortunate young sisters who all had suitors
but had no dowries because their father, a poor nobleman,
could not raise the money. So they could not marry.
Now the bishop Nicholas was a shy man
and did not like to give money directly ,
so he thought of a way to give it anonymously.
When the first daughter was ready to marry,
the good bishop tossed a bag of gold
into the house at night.
Later, when the second daughter prepared to marry,
she too received a mysterious bag of gold.
When the third daughter prepared to marry,
the poor nobleman was determined to find out
who had been so generous.
So he kept watch and saw the bishop drop another
bag of gold into the house.
It has been said that Saint Nicholas climbed on the roof
and dropped the third bag of gold down the chimney
where it landed in a stocking hung to dry,
giving us a reason to hang up Christmas stockings today.
When the father saw what had happened,
Nicholas begged him to keep the secret,
but, of course, the news got out.
From then on, whenever anyone received an unexpected gift,
they thanked Nicholas.
Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming
associated with our modern day Santa Claus.
~ He raised to life three young boys who had been murdered
and pickled in a barrel of brine to hide the crime.
These stories led to his patronage of children in general,
and of barrel-makers besides.
~ He induced some thieves to return their plunder.
This explains his protection against theft and robbery,
and his patronage of them - he's not helping them steal,
but to repent and change.
In the past, thieves have been known as
Saint Nicholas' clerks or Knights of Saint Nicholas.
~During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up,
threatening the ship. He prayed over it, and the storm calmed -
hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers
who work on the sea.
The anniversary of Nicholas' death, December 6th, is celebrated
as his feast day.
God of joy and cheer, we thank you for your servant,
the good bishop Nicholas.
In loving the poor,he showed us your kindness;
in caring for your children,he revealed your love.
Make us thoughtful without need of reward
so that we, too, may be good followers of Jesus.
Gracious and good Lord,
we bless you on this feast of St. Nicholas, your servant,
who is an example to us of a life of charity and love.
May we see in his life an invitation to imitate his good deeds.
Make us always mindful of the needs of others
and help us rejoice in the abundance
of your goodness around us.
Through Jesus our Lord. Amen.