This year, as always in our Tradition, St Nicholas visits our homes. What he brings to your heart or mine depends on our personal situation; what channels have we tuned into? What messages are we open to?
St Nicholas day heralds our celebration of the Nativity—God becoming flesh— a human person like us. To know St Nicholas as a historic living entity emphasizes our knowledge of Christ as the same—a living breathing individual like us.
We need these crucial reminders to steer us back on to a path of our best selves. YES, we CAN live our lives making choices to act in and with love, in everything we do. We know it’s possible because St Nick is a person who tried to do his job in his community in a way that followed the example of Jesus, who had lived and breathed some generations before him. He took Christ’s model of living to heart and infused his actions with ostensibly “random acts of kindness” that touched others to the extent that we still remember him today! We might think that St Nicholas was extraordinary because he was a bishop, or he was rich, or, or, or (something that makes him special and not like you or me). But the point of his memory is that he lived as a fully human guy, caring about others in the best ways he could figure out, within his particular position. We all know how someone with status can act in negative ways; we know about photo ops and self-promotions and conspicuous charity. But this bishop is known for surprising people with gratuitous gifts—in secret! When he saw someone in need, he tried to support them in a way he felt they could use. He did this in a way that caused delight. I imagine how much pleasure he himself derived from his secret escapades!
St Nicholas coming to our hearts before the Nativity is a celebration of human potential for goodness. It’s an affirmation of fun and joy that comes from serving others, caring for others, loving each other because we are fellow human beings, sharing this life and the environment we live in.