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Second Sunday of Advent- St Nicholas

Posted: 4 Dec 2016

All of you who love to celebrate,

Come and sing the praises of the most noble of bishops,

The glory of the ancient fathers,

A fountain of wonders and great protector of the poor.

Rejoice, faithful helper of the afflicted,

And fervent advocate of those who are oppressed.

O, holy bishop Nicholas,

Never cease to intercede with Christ our God,

For those who honour your blessed memory

with faith and love.

Byzantine Vespers Verses
 

Early in Advent, a season that speaks to us of hope and of the great efforts we much make to lead honest Christian lives, we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas. His feast is an important pause in our advent journey, a time to reflect and ponder on Saint Nicholas’ admirable example of Gospel living. There is much in his life the we can learn from. 

Like Christ, his Lord and master, Saint Nicholas was a good shepherd to his flock, exercising special compassion and mercy toward the outcasts, the poor, the undesirables of his time, and all those who were in distress in one form or another. His gentle goodness and exemplary life radiated beyond the frontiers or limits of his own diocese of Myra, attracting pagans and unbelievers to the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

The life of Saint Nicholas is an exemplary Gospel witness for our times, not just as we get ready ourselves for Christmas, but as our entire lives unfold under a societal climate not unlike that of the time of Saint Nicholas. His example and preaching, totally in accord with the Lord’s teachings in the Gospels, is the antithesis of the rhetoric of meanness and self-centredness preached by many politicians today: that the poor, the elderly, the undocumented immigrants, the marginal, etc., are enemies for whom compassion is too costly. In such times, intolerance of those who appear different from the social norm because of race, age, language, nationality or sexual orientation is countenanced. It saddens me deeply that some who espouse such policies call themselves Christians, when these ideas are in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus, the master. All we have to do is read Matthew 25:31-46 to be reminded where the Gospel stands on these matters. And what an irony, that these same people would make claims to being exemplary Christians, people of faith and prayer, people who spend their days honouring God, yet in practice would not honour the very words and example from Jesus: “Whatever you di to the least of these, you di to me”. They should reminded of the the Lord’s harsh words to people who act in similar fashion: “You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: “This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” 

Political ideologies or lables don’t mean very much in monastic life. Christian monks in general leave behind worldly concerns in order to follow Jesus. But though politics man mean little to us, policies mean a great deal, as they should to all Christians. Policies usually either promote or are in opposition to the values of the Gospel. It is our duty, therefore, not only to pray, but even to speak out on occasion, when needed for the sake of the Gospel. In a chaotic and selfish world, where greed, hatred, intolerance, punishment, revenge and discrimination  become exalted values, the Christian, like Staint Nicholas, must gently but firmly proclaim the love and selflessness of Jesus; the peace, compassion and mercy of the Gospel. This is the grace we must pray and ask Saint Nicholas on his feast day.

Br. Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourette
“Monastry Journey to Christmas”
Copyright 2011
Liguori Publications
Liguori, Missouri 63057

 

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