This is a chapel I gave at Cascia Hall on this date in 2011. It's not too late to find an "angel tree" project or a similar effort in your community to serve the poor as we anticipate Christmas! Visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org to find the location nearest you.
I hope you looked carefully in your shoes before you put them on this morning, or you might have jammed your toes into a nectarine, some candy, or even a small toy because today is the feast of St. Nicholas.
Like many popular figures from long ago, it’s become difficult to separate the history of Nicholas from the legends that have sprung up around him, but we do know that, like another bishop, Thomas of Villanova, Nicholas used the considerable wealth at his disposal not for his own benefit but instead to give to the poor. Although this trait helped give rise to his transformation into the gift-giving icon of Christmas commercialism, Santa Claus, Nicholas is an Advent role model because he followed Isaiah’s command to strengthen the feeble and weak and to inspire hope in those who fear.
So, as you participate in our Christmas project for Catholic Charities and buy Darth Vaders and Pet Vet Barbies for your adopted children, see yourselves not as Santa Claus, lavishing Christmas gifts, but instead as St. Nicholas, bringing hope to a poor child by bringing him or her the love of Christ through your own charity.
God our Father, we pray that, through the intercession of St. Nicholas, you will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm, and help them grow and become worthy of your sight. Give them strength to keep their faith in you and to keep alive their joy in your creation through Christ our Lord. Amen.