06 Dec – Memorial for St. Nicholas, bishop
Nicholas (d. 346) was Bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey). He was generous to the poor and a special protector of the innocent and wronged. Many stories grew up around him prior to his becoming Santa Claus. Some examples:
– 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.
– 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 or barrel-makers besides.
– Induced some thieves to return their plunder. This explains his protection against theft and robbery, and his patronage of them – he’s not helping them steal, but to repent and change. In the past, thieves have been known as “St. Nicholas’ clerks” or “Knights of St. Nicholas”.
– During a voyage to the Holy Lands, a fierce storm blew up, threatening the ship. He prayed over it, and the storm calmed – hence the patronage of sailors and those like dockworkers who work on the sea.
– Patron Saint Index
That day, this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
to guard us he has set
wall and rampart about us.
Open the gates! Let the upright nation come in,
she, the faithful one
whose mind is steadfast, who keeps the peace,
because she trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord for ever,
for the Lord is the everlasting Rock;
he has brought low those who lived high up
in the steep citadel;
he brings it down, brings it down to the ground,
flings it down in the dust:
the feet of the lowly, the footsteps of the poor
trample on it.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord”, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.
‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts of them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, flood rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, flood rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’
Dear brothers and sisters, have you read horoscopes before? I have. And with them being printed in newspapers and magazines and on some websites’ homepages, my eye still wanders to them at times. When we read horoscopes we can be amazed at how accurate they predicted something that happened earlier or how true they project the future.
Horoscopes are rather shrewdly written. They contain phrases and predictions which are worded in such a way that they can apply to anyone and at anytime. We have phrases like “be careful of what you say” or “you may encounter something unexpected”. Phrases which are always relevant. In a gist, they can’t be wrong because they never made a wrong statement. So past events seem to have been predicted and, worse, we may become guided by a prediction so that it does come true in future.
So many people follow or have followed horoscopes. It begs the question of why. The answer can be summed up to a want for hope. We hope for good things in our lives. Horoscopes offer hope in the form of nice predictions; hope in the form of advice against undesirable outcomes; hope in the form of an explanation for why we went through a bad patch. Hope is one of those fundamental things that cannot be destroyed. Horoscopes appeal to that deep-seated need for hope. Whether they can bring that hope to fruition is another matter altogether.
This is the first week of Advent and our theme is hope. Not the kind of hope that horoscopes or their like offer us. Those are founded on weak soil and do not stand up to the trials we face in our lives. What we commemorate this week is the true and stable hope that Christ offers. This is a hope that isn’t flashy or glamorous. It doesn’t appear to make predictions about the details of our lives. It doesn’t offer to make us richer or more popular or more successful if we make certain decisions. Though all those seem certain they are actually pretty ambiguous. The hope of Christ may not be all glitzy but it is certain; that we WILL withstand the difficulties; that we WILL find surety and safety and happiness with God.
My sisters and brothers, as we prepare for Christmas, let us reflect on this hope of Christ and where our own hope lies.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Give thanks to the Lord for: Hope
Prayer: That we will always be mindful that with Christ and in Christ we can conquer all adversity.
Fri, 07 Dec – Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31; Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop, doctor of the Church
Sat, 08 Dec – Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Sun, 09 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12; Second Sunday of Advent
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