Thursday, December 6, 2012

A True Christmas Story

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas  

St. Nicholas was a Bishop of Myra during the fourth Century.  He was born to wealthy parents.  After their death he used his wealth to help others.  There is a story that he heard of three sisters whose father could not afford a dowry and hence was considering selling the girls into servitude.  St. Nicholas snuck into the home of the girls and left a bag of gold.  He did this three times, one bag for each daughter.  He was discovered upon leaving the last bag.  The girls father thanked Nicholas and news spread of these good deeds.

(AP Photo/Jennifer Foster)
St. Nicholas is believed to have died on December 6th and has become the inspiration for the custom of Santa Claus.  Reflecting on the life of this wonderful saint I am reminded of a wonderful story I recently read.  

It was a cold night in New York City in November of this year when a young police office, just 25 years old was walking through Time Square when he heard some laughter.  There were some young people around a homeless man.  The man was sitting on the ground with no shoes and sores on this feet.  As the night was so cold that the police officer couldn't even keep his feet warm with 2 pairs of socks and shoes his heart went out to this poor man.  

The officer went straight over to a shoe store across the street and bought a pair of all weather boots costing around $100.00.  He estimated the size to around 12.  He brought them over to the man.  He knelt down before this soul and said "I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather let's put them on and take care of you".  A tourist passing by witnessed this act of kindness and heard the words of the police officer.  She snapped a shot of officer kneeling before the man getting ready to put the new socks and shoes on him.  The police officer was not aware that anyone was listening to what was transpiring.  The tourist, Jennifer Foster, visiting from Arizona posted the photo with a brief story on Facebook and quickly 140,000 people shared the story and television stations and newspapers began running the story. The police officer was not aware of the photo and had returned to his home in Long Island New York where he lives with his parents.  

There is something wonderful about this story.  Is it because it reminds us of the Biblical story of Lazarus covered by sores and sitting by the gate of the rich man, but this time someone is there to tend to him?  Is it because the person to help this homeless man was someone in a position of authority and yet felt moved to kneel before a man cast aside and the subject of jokes.  For all these reasons and more this young police officer captured the hearts of individuals all around the world.  In his quiet, humble way he was a sign of Christ among us. He made news and for a short time took the space of headlines usually reserved for the tragedies around us.  For a moment our hearts felt joy and hope the true emotions of this season of Advent.  

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