Friday, December 7, 2012

Giving it All Away

A young man came and asked Jesus about life, the universe and everything. They chatted and Jesus told him that if he followed what God said, the young man would obtain eternal life.

But, obviously this guy was a type A personality, and he persisted in quizzing Jesus, "I've kept all the commandments, so what else is there for me to do?"

"Well," said Jesus, "if you want to be perfect ...?"  Yes, the young man eagerly nods his head.

"Then sell all you have, give the money to those who are in need, and follow me."

Now it turns out that this man was very wealthy, so not only would selling all he had be hard for him to do, but it would involve a complete change in his life. He would have to give up his life-style, give up any inheritance to pass on to children, indeed he may have to give up the chance to have a family.

Would his desire to be perfect be able to overcome the cost entailed? All we know is that when he left Jesus he was sad.

But we do know someone whose desire to know God in such a way caused him to part with his great wealth to the benefit of those in need. In fact we celebrate him today, on the anniversary of his death - December 6, 343 AD.  His name is St. Nicholas. Born into a wealthy family, his parents died when he was young. However they had raised him to be a strong Christian, and he dedicated his life to serving the poor by providing for them.

I particularly love the story of how he saved three young sisters from slavery. Their father was very poor. In the those days for a girl to get married she had to have a dowry. The more money her family had for a dowry, the better the husband she could have. But a poor family with three daughters - no way they had any hopes of a dowry. But the family could not support them if they remained single, so their father would have to sell them into slavery.

However, they did not end up as slaves because a bag of gold was tossed through their window on three separate occasions, landing in socks that were drying by the fire. The mysterious giver of this money that meant they were able to marry was, of course, Nicholas.

St. Nicholas, known for his generosity to the poor, his love of children, and his concern for sailors and ships, is who we emulate at Christmas in our gift-giving. He, according to Jesus, was perfect - he sold all he had, gave to the poor, and followed Jesus.


  1. Thank you for the info on St. Nick. I've heard a variety of stories about him, but never this one!

    1. You're welcome, Vonda! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you're finding some hush in the rush this advent :-)

  2. Thanks, Sue, we heard a homily about this piece of scripture, I like your take on it, and I too have not heard this story about St. Nicholas.