Many years ago, there was a man in deep trouble. He was the father of three daughters who were ready to be married, but the father had lost all his money. At this time and place no daughter could be married without a dowry, and so his daughters were destined for a life of prostitution unless something could be done. The man’s neighbor heard about this man’s plight and having some money decided to help. He wanted to do so anonymously so the first evening while everyone was asleep, he dropped a bag of gold into the window. He dropped another bag of gold into the window the next night, and on the third night the father waited up in order to discover his benefactor. He caught his neighbor putting gold in the window and fell to his knees in thanks. The neighbor helped him to his feet and gave him a warning not to tell of his generosity.
The neighbor would live through the Roman persecution of Diocletian, would attend the counsel of Nicea, would be bishop of Myra and would be remembered as the good St. Nicholas.
Happy St. Nicholas Day.
In today’s reading, Jesus explains that you must do more than call out Jesus’ name in order to enter the kingdom. Jeff Cavins expresses this thought well in his talk, Fan or Follower. We can easily get caught up in being a fan of Jesus.
Jesus was so great, said so many profound things, as the old song so aptly put “Jesus is just all right with me, Jesus is my friend.” But Jesus knows that fans can be very fair weather indeed, and if the storms come, the fans will quickly disappear. The beautiful house and the good feelings can quickly be destroyed by the tough times. Jesus wants us to be His followers. To allow His words to change us, to transform us. To act upon what he has to say, to let his teachings make a difference. Then we are the wise ones that built the house on rock that will stand against the storms.
I can think of very few better examples of the wise man building his house upon the rock than St. Nicholas. An old Russian hymn says this about St. Nicholas: “The truth of your deeds revealed you to your flock as a standard of faith, an image of gentleness, and a teacher of self-control. Because of your humble life heaven opened up to you.”
Now this is the life of a follower. On this St. Nicholas Day, let me remember that I am more than a fan but a follower, and let the generosity and the mercy of St. Nicholas be an example to me so that I can open up my heart so that I allow Christ to transform me to be the person that He wants me to be. Amen.