Thursday, December 04, 2008
Who was Saint Nicholas?
One of the times of the year I enjoy the most are the days around St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6. I like it because we're not quite into all of the hub-bub and hassle of the shopping and parties and baking and decorating, etc. (at least in my family, things get started kind of late!). I also like it because it celebrates what is best about giving with generosity and receiving in humility in the Christmas season.
Very little is known about the real Saint Nicholas from history. We know that he lived in what is modern-day Turkey in the fourth century. We know that he was a bishop. We know that as a young man, he inherited quite a bit of money from his parents' estate.
What is less clear are the legends. Did he really drop three bags of gold into the home of three young women who had no dowry? Was he at the council of Nicea, the group that composed the ancient Nicene Creed of the Christian church? At the Nicene council, did he get mad at Arius (whose teaching was anti-Scriptural) and punch him? And, of course, there are the "miracles": did he as an infant heal the sick?
What we can say with certainty is that St. Nicholas was generous. He shared with others, but not just his wealth. He shared the hope he had in Christ, in life eternal, in the blessings showered by a generous and giving God. That is the true spirit of St. Nicholas Day--a great day to share with others.