MCCA

St. Nicholas of Myra

On Dec. 6, the faithful commemorate a bishop in the early church who was known for generosity and love of children. Born in Lycia in Asia Minor around the late third or fourth century,  St. Nicholas of Myra is more than just the inspiration for the modern day Santa.

As a young man he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Palestine and Egypt in order to study in the school of the Desert Fathers. On returning some years later he was almost immediately ordained Bishop of Myra, which is now Demre, on the coast of modern day Turkey.

The bishop was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution and only released when Constantine the Great came to power and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

One of the most famous stories of the generosity of St. Nicholas says that he threw bags of gold through an open window in the house of a poor man to serve as dowry for the man’s daughters, who otherwise would have been sold into slavery.

The gold is said to have landed in the family’s shoes, which were drying near the fire. This is why children leave their shoes out by the door, or hang their stockings by the fireplace in the hopes of receiving a gift on the eve of his feast.

St. Nicholas is associated with Christmas because of the tradition that he had the custom of giving secret gifts to children. It is also conjectured that the saint, who was known to wear red robes and have a long white beard, was culturally converted into the large man with a reindeer-drawn sled full of toys because in German, his name is “San Nikolaus” which almost sounds like “Santa Claus.”

In the East, he is known as St. Nicholas of Myra for the town in which he was bishop. But in the West he is called St. Nicholas of Bari because, during the Muslim conquest of Turkey in 1087, his relics were taken to Bari by the Italians.

St Nicholas is the patron of children and of sailors. His intercession is sought by the shipwrecked, by those in difficult economic circumstances, and for those affected by fires.

He died on December 6, 346.


Isaiah 29:17-24

17 Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest?
18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless shall come to nought and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off,
21 who by a word make a man out to be an offender, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and with an empty plea turn aside him who is in the right.
22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction."


Matthew 9:27-31

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David."
28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord."
29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you."
30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly charged them, "See that no one knows it."
31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.


Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!


Lord, I hope in You

Friday 6th December 2019
1st Week of Advent
Is. 29:17-24; Ps. 27(26):1,4,13-14;
Mt. 9:27-31 (Ps Wk I)


The first reading describes the internal social and moral reform that will take place in Judah when God puts forth His hand once again on the nation.

Where there was once barren wasteland, a fruitful forest will grow. Where there was once shadow and darkness, the light will shine. Those blinded by arrogance and pride will face their downfall. In contrast, the lowly will rejoice and the poor will praise the Lord, and the blind see.

This optimistic prophecy foretells the day when the true Messiah will come to bring change in the world order. The Gospel story of Jesus healing the two blind men emphasizes the type of king he will be. The two men address him as “Son of David”, therefore appealing to him as the Davidic Messiah-King. He hears the cry of the poor among his people. In addition, for Matthew the Gospel writer, the cry “Son of David” indicates not only Jesus’ Jewish and Davidic ties as Messiah, but also his special desire to heal the poor or despised individuals.

The readings remind us that wickedness and pride will never overcome goodness and humility. Although the world around us may seem clouded with shadow and darkness, the light and truth of God will eventually triumph, and bring healing to the land and to people. As Christians, for our part, we have to place our trust in the Messiah King, who reigns more powerfully and justly than the rulers of the world. Until then, let us pray with the psalmist, “The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?”

Lord, I hope in You.