O holy father,
The fruit of your good deeds has enlightened and delighted the hearts of the faithful.
Who cannot wonder at your measureless patience and humility?
At your graciousness to the poor?
At your compassion for the afflicted?
O Bishop Nicholas,
You have divinely taught all things well,
And now wearing your unfading crown, you intercede for our souls.*
This hymn is heard at the vespers service for the Feast of St. Nicholas which is celebrated on December 6th. Fr. Tom talks in this chapter about who Saint Nicholas really was and why the memory of him has been so strong through the ages. He says that all that we know about Saint Nicholas and all the legends and stories that have sprung up around his name point to one thing: he was a good man.
The extraordinary thing about the image of Saint Nicholas in the Church is that he is not known for anything extraordinary. He was not a theologian and never wrote a word, yet he is famous in the memory of believers as a zealot for orthodoxy... He was not an ascetic and did no outstanding feats of fasting and vigils, yet he is praised for his possession of the "fruit of the Holy Spirit"...He was not a mystic in our present meaning of the term but he lived daily with the Lord and was godly in all of his words and deeds.
In a word, he was a good pastor, father, and bishop to his flock, known especially for his love and care for the poor. Most simply put, he was a divinely good person.
The point being made here is that true goodness is possible with the help of Christ. Because He came to earth, He made it possible for us to go with Him to heaven.
The Messiah has come so that human beings can live lives which are, strictly speaking, humanly impossible. He has come so that people can really be good.
Saint Nicholas shows us what it is to be transformed in this life; he shows us what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. He lived a life which could only be lived through and in the grace of God. May we look at his example and also strive to live as he did.
*from Vespers on the Feast of St. Nicholas