The Real St. Nicholas – The People’s Champion

He challenges us at this time of year to give not only to those we know and love, but also to those we do not know and especially to those who find themselves in need.

~ Adam C. English

Nicholas providing a dowry for one of three daughters of a destitute man

by Pete Ferguson

Saturday as my wife and I dropped in at Wal-Mart for last minute stocking stuffers, I witnessed many different scenes.

1. The last minute look of desperation in many men with carts trying to find a gift for their wife. I wanted to approach them, tell them that their wife probably did not need another basket full of bubble bath and soap.

2. Excitement, enthusiasm, and glee on the faces of small children who were lining up to Shop with a Soldier.

3. The weariness and exhaustion of some of the staff who have been working long hours and were discussing how their children are now off from school yet they are still at work.

4. Unfortunately rare, but thankfully still present – the happy and peaceful shoppers excited by the magic of Christmas completing a few last minute errands.

This morning as I was catching up on reading, I came across an editorial on CNN.com about the real St. Nicholas.

Instead of fixating on the commercialization and greed that plague the modern Santa Claus, I chose to see in it the lasting power of a simple act of kindness. ~ Adam C. English

I have always held some content towards St. Nick for hijacking the true focus of a day meant to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ.

But the real Nicholas of Mayra understood what it meant to be a Christian. He thought of others needs and gave what he had to improve their lives. What has happened to commercialize Christmas and stories of a stranger dressed in a red and white suit were not Nicholas’ doing.

But the example he set is a worthy one worth learning about and understanding.

Nicholas had been aware of a certain citizen of Patara  in Lycia, modern-day Turkey who had once been an important and wealthy man of the city but who had fallen on hard times and into extreme poverty. The man grew so desperate that he lacked the very essentials of life.

The poor man reasoned that it was impossible to marry off his three beautiful daughters because they lacked dowries for proper marriages to respectable noblemen. He feared they would each in turn be forced into prostitution to support themselves.

Nicholas heard this heartbreaking news and resolved to do something about it. He bagged a sum of gold and in the dead of night, tossed it through the man’s window. The money was used as a dowry for the first daughter.

The kind deed was repeated for the second daughter.

Sometime later, Nicholas made a second nighttime visit so that the second daughter might marry. Later tradition reported that, finding the windows closed, he dropped the bag of gold down the chimney, where it landed into one of the girl’s stockings that was hanging to dry.

The grateful father wanted to solve the mystery of the secret benefactor and was ready when the third daughter was to be wed.

When he heard a bag hit the floor, the father leapt to his feet and raced outside, where he caught the mysterious benefactor. Nicholas revealed his identity to the father but made him swear never to tell anyone what he’d done. He did not want praise or recognition for his generosity.

Later raised to the title of a Saint after his death and thanks to millions of dollars in media promotion, unfortunately the original tale – just as the original purpose of celebrating Christmas – of Nicholas has been absconded, morphed and distorted.

The meaning of Christmas is not about iPads, video games or baskets of body cleanser. The true meaning of Christmas is about meaningful giving.

What Nicholas did was noteworthy, certainly. And before and since his time I would have to imagine that millions more have carried out acts of charity also of worth to the receiver and the reader.

Nicholas gave a gift that saved and transformed three lives and the lives of their posterity. It afforded a greater opportunity to live life to its fullest.

But only once has a life been given to save all mankind. And while other stories are worthy of repeating, it is this occurrence which transcends over 2,000 years and has impacted all who will but believe.

The life, teachings and sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord is much greater than anything wrapped in a box or recounted. It has the power to lift us to a higher plane and reminds us that regardless of our past, we always have the ability to craft our future and to be forgiven.

Take time in the hustle and bustle to ensure you and your family reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Source: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas, Adam C. English, CNN.com

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