Does anyone know what time it is? Our student Vanya just got a new watch, he and Dennis both. He might say: 11:04:25 A.M. EST. One holy man said: It is later than you think!
What we do for Christ is not for now but for eternity. What we do for ourselves is for now and passes. Lord it is not that I don’t believe. I just don’t have any concept of eternity and the mansions beyond this world. Why? Maybe because I am united with this world and its fixtures, while God calls and invites me to come to the wedding feast of His eternal Life. Come let us dine together through the Eucharist, through our life together in Christ, through following Him and being in the company of the saints.
The Lord made the invitation, yet by the parable we see how uninterested humanity was and is in it. Who came? Not the people invited, not the guests. The Lord had to scour the highways and byways; He had to drag people in. Even today we see this apathy towards goodness, a yawning before eternity and divinity. God invited us, and what is our excuse—oxen, land, marriage. So God calls the sick—the healthy seem too busy.
We are filled with ideas and good intentions. Your actions speak so loudly, a saying goes, I can’t hear a word you are saying. There is a world of difference between thinking about love and loving, between noble thoughts and noble actions. We have enough talk, enough ideas. We need action. We need deeds; not that deeds buy our ticket to heaven, but talk definitely doesn’t.
St. Nicholas lived what he taught. They say that St. Nicholas, as a priest, increased in virtue day by day. Who is keeping track of our virtue, which is our obedience to the will of God, our adherence to His commandments against our fallen nature or impulses? Who reflects to see each day, did I do better? Am I still angry?
We talked a few weeks ago about our inner attitude, our idealized image, how we really are and who we really are. We spoke of the Good Samaritan and promised to be like him with our fellow human beings. Now we see in the person of St. Nicholas the incarnation of the Good Samaritan—someone who followed the Lord’s words and example. St. Nicholas, they say, imitated the Good Shepherd and was himself a good shepherd. He considered the wealth and possessions in his care just as would a steward for the poor and needy. Later, as a priest, he fasted and prayed and kept vigil. While before he kept the secrets of his life with Christ private, as a priest he shared them with his flock, as a father shares his wealth with his children.
We hear of the ancient miracles of St. Nicholas, saving sailors at sea, providing a dowry for three young maids. He continued his good works even in fourteenth century, when he renewed the eyes of St. Stephan of Decani, who had been blinded by his father. St. Nicholas appeared to him to assure him, showing him a set of eyes and saying, I have your eyes Stephen, don’t worry, they will be restored. And at the translation of St Nicholas’ relics from Lycia to Bari, St. Stephen’s eyes were miraculously healed. Recently in Harbin, St. Nicholas saved a pagan Chinese person who believed in him, and also others who venerated him and looked for his help. In the 1930’s, there was a man whose great grandfather was lost in a storm, and St. Nicholas found him and drove his sleigh back to the road before departing. Also, during the Russian revolution, St. Nicholas came into a prison camp dressed in green Bishop’s vestments, bringing all thirty-five prisoners form one barrack to pray in the middle of the camp, where prisoners were usually executed. They prayed together in the open, and then he walked with them past the guards and out of the camp. St. Nicholas continues to help us to from the realm of eternity, reaching into our lives and circumstances. The whole world loves him. Why? Because he loves us and continues to do so even now.
May we enter the wedding feast of the Lord being united with Him now during this Divine Liturgy and throughout the time of our lives in obedience to Him.