Dec 6 – Memorial for St. Nicholas, bishop
St. Nicholas (d. 346) was a priest and abbot, and the bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey). He was generous to the poor, and a special protector of the innocent and wrong. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming Santa Claus.
One story is that upon hearing that a local man had fallen on such hard times that he was planning to sell his daughters into prostitution, Nicholas went by night to the house and threw three bags of gold in through the window, saving the girls from an evil life. These three bags, gold generously given in time of trouble, became the three golden balls that indicate a pawn broker’s shop.
Another story is that 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.
Another St. Nicholas story is that he induced some thieves to return their plunder, which led to his protection against theft and robbery, and his patronage of them – he is not helping them to steal, but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as Saint Nicholas’ clerks or Knights of St. Nicholas.
A fourth story is that during a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed about it, and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
- Patron Saint Index
“Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
If you were born in the ‘80s, you would be familiar with Rick Astley’s hit ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you…” croons Rick, as he talks about not ever hurting or giving up on his love. And it is what it is – a love song. Which is, in some ways, like the “love song” that God sings to us through parables like “The Lost Sheep”.
I imagine that if God were to sing us a love song, it would be so much more than what could be put into words. It would run so much deeper than our own comprehension. And maybe that’s why we don’t fully understand the depth of His love for us – we’ve never known that kind of love before. We’ve probably been conditioned to feel that if we made a mistake or did something bad, we would not be deserving of love, that everything bad that happened after that was karma. And we would hide further and hurt deeper, thinking that we deserve to feel hurt, we aren’t worthy to be loved by anyone.
But this is not what God wants for us, it is not His will, as stated in today’s reading. It is not His will for anyone of us to be lost, to feel lost or abandoned. The further we hide, the harder He searches, and when He finds us, He reaches out gently and takes us under His wing to comfort us. He is happy. We know all this in today’s Word – there is no reprimand, no anger. Instead, all of heaven rejoices! Remember the parable of ‘The Prodigal Son’? In Luke 15:32, the father says, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” There was no anger in the father’s voice, there was only love and compassion. Luke 15:20 says that “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” He could see his son’s suffering and only wanted to comfort him and assure him that everything was alright, that whatever it was he had done, he was still worthy of his love. What a love song!
I know that God’s words are true and not fluff that someone is singing to flatter my heart. God does love me so deeply; He would never give up on me. God covers my wounds with His healing, calms my soul, brings peace to my frazzled mind. No problem is too small for Him, no hurt too great that He can’t fix. My God holds me and soothes me and brings me back to His fold. He loves me dearly, and He loves you too.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, even in our darkest depths and deepest hurt, we pray that the warmth and comfort of your love will still find us. May that be enough for us to know we can always come back to you.
Thanksgiving: Dearest Father, thank you for your unconditional love, for not giving up on me or deserting me. I cannot put it into words, it is the best ‘love song’ ever.