St. Nicholas of Bari: December 6, 2018

The feast of St. Nicholas is all about doing good to people. Nicholas was a father of the Council of Ncea (325) which was all about declaring the divinity of Jesus Christ. The prevailing Greek mind of Arius quite logically maintained that Jesus Christ was holy, a great man, in fact, the greatest of men, but it could not held that he was God since He was man. A man. The Greek had it that as man, Christ was “engendered,” but clearly not un-engendered as would be the case if he were God. Arius had replaced the Christian wording of “Father” and “Son” by the Greek words aggentos (unengendered) and genetos (engendered). Notice that the word “father” and “Son” are relational words, whereas the words un-engendered and engendered are not. By simply replacing the relational words by the non-relational, the mind is forced out of the mystery of the Father and the Son as equal but not the same. Notice that it is only if the Father is the relational action of engendering the Son could they be equal but not the same.

What was at stake here was the transcending novelty of the Christian mind. The Person of the Father had to be the action of love engendering the Son. They could then be different as Father and Son but equal as loving and being loved.  St. Nicholas was a lover. Myth was to provide money for the doweries of unmarriageable women. In fact, he is known for being the first saint who was not a martyr. His holiness was gift giving in line with the reality of the divine Persons who gave Themselves so utterly that they are One God.

The topic for today, then, is poverty and generosity; poverty in order to be generous. That is, in the spirit of  Opus Dei poverty is not a state of penury where one becomes holy  by having nothing. This is impossible and absurd since one is called in the world to be a saint and identified with Christ by giving all of oneself. In fact. St. Josemaria entitled his Magna Charta: “Passionately Loving the World.” That is, one is called to love by giving away all that one has, even one’s self, for the good of the others. As image of the Trinitarian Persons, one is called to live “for” others, having nothing “for” self. One may possess the entire world and love it passionately for itself and have nothing for self. Jesus Christ is the fullness of reality as God and Creator of all things, but He shows us that precisely because He is the fullness of all reality, He slips the Godhead, becomes man, lives in an unremarkable human situation as in the town of Nazareth and apparent son of Joseph and apprentice carpenter, He has nowhere to lay his head and dies naked and alone on the Cross except for some special loves. We are called to live this poverty amidst plenty with boundless joy precisely because we have nothing for ourselves. Notice: the goal is not just a factual state of being –  having nothing, but having nothing because you freely gave it all away to and for someone. And this in ordinary living The key is to want to be poor.

On retreat last week, I saw a smallish tree that had small red berries. Birds were flying in, out, through it, dive bombing it and gorging themself on the berries. I was filled with a passion to be the tree that the birds could eat off. I asked Him to give me the wisdom and generosity to be full of berries…

Go to Mark 10, 17 + to consider the rich young man who wanted eternal life and was told, after living the commandments, to give all he had away and tramp with Christ 24/7. He had lots. He reneged and went away sad. Pay attention.

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