'It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving' ~Mother Teresa
There are two feast days coming up during the week which may pass us by quietly and perhaps little fuss made of them. The first is the feast of St Nicholas which takes place today Tuesday (Dec 6th). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the wonder-worker. He came from a wealthy family and decided to share all his money with the poor. He always did so quietly and without fuss. He would drop some gold coins down the chimney of those who were really poor. People wondered who the generous donor was. One day someone found out it was Nicholas. His name and fame spread to many countries and so Santa Claus as we know him today came into being.
We give gifts at Christmas because we know deep within that it's good to express our love for those who are special and important to us. Thanks to Nicholas, Santa is alive and well. Our world would be such a darker place without his inspiring presence. There is already enough darkness, hatred, bitterness, and division across our world today. It craves for light, hope and stability. There is no greater joy than that which comes with giving and sharing. St Nicholas led the way by example. Little did he know how popular he would become or how he would get interwoven with the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus. We ask his special blessings on each of us. We pray too that the spirit of Christmas and the gift of sharing will make a real difference in the coming weeks.
The other feast day is the feast of Mary (Immaculate Conception) on Thursday (Dec 8th). This used to be the official start of Christmas for many people but in the last few years it has been replaced dramatically by Black Friday! Dec 8th may have lost its appeal as a big shopping day but the significance of Mary has still great appeal. If St Nicholas became interwoven with the Christmas story, Mary is at its very core. Dec 8th marks Mary out as someone special as the mother of Jesus, but it doesn't mark her out as removed or distant from us. Like us she experienced the fragility of life and experienced many unexpected and difficult moments in her life. Life could so easy have crushed her spirit, but at all times she put her trust in God. This is the challenge for us. Where would the world be if everyone just thought of themselves only, independent of others and of God? As we approach Christmas it is good to remember that it's not the amount of giving that counts, but how much love we put into the giving.