There is a reason why Christmas and St Nicholas are synonymous. God becomes human and a human becomes like God. This isn’t blasphemy! Christ taught how to live in love and the Bishop of Myra demonstrated how to live Christ’s teaching. Christ died because he subverted the norms of his day, elevating the downtrodden and illuminating the hollowness of wealth and status. This Sunday’s Gospels focus on economic inequality, as it were. We see the foolishness of a rich man who believes his wealth is his happiness. On the other hand, the beatitudes describe those in poverty and strife as happy—blessed—when Christ fills their soul. The Gospels point out that poverty in creation is “man-made”, rather than a Divine plan. Inequality exists because the “wealthy” “successful” world believes it has it all, ignoring others. The ignored, rejected, suffering, are God’s children as much as those who live in luxury.
We recognize heavenly joy through each other and if we rest in our own comfort we may fail to see Christ in the homeless person wandering the streets. In following Christ we try to see the world as the Kingdom of Heaven infused with the Spirit: blessed. Since Christ’s life on earth, the Church has struggled with the immensity of His message, favouring power and wealth. Yet at the same time, a strong current of social justice has also endured, striving to reveal that blessedness of the Kingdom here and now.
We love St Nicholas as a beacon of social justice, carrying that gladness of the beatitudes, using his familial inheritance to relieve the strife of poverty he encountered, seeing those on the margins as his equals—family in Christ. Currently, the hierarchy of our Church is working to rekindle the spirit of inclusion and hospitality in each of us. Patriarch Sviatoslav has embraced the global movement of Laudatus Si that we engage in with our weekly actions. Through this call to care for creation through social and climate justice in our Ukr Catholic Church we carry on the work of the Blessed Andrij Sheptysky and our forebears who teach us the hospitality, still today, of the candle in the window during our Holy Supper—telling those without their own family table that they still belong with us. Social justice begins with you and me and how we see each other. This week, let’s consciously hold the spirit of St Nicholas in our hearts; try to see those around us with more joy and less judgement. Then may the love and fun St Nicholas embodies take root in us and stay not just this week, but keep growing for all time.
“We cannot love God, unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore.” (Dorothy Day 1952)