Saturday, December 06, 2008

Today is St. Nicholas Day!

He is the patron saint of giving, isn't he?

Here's something I found (that is listed as a reflection on St. Nicholas) that speaks to our "normal" selfish-centeredness:

What keeps you from giving now? Isn't the poor person there? Aren't your own warehouses full? Isn't the reward promised? The command is clear: the hungry person is dying now, the naked person is freezing now, the person in debt is beaten now-and you want to wait until tomorrow? "I'm not doing any harm," you say. "I just want to keep what I own, that's all." You own! You are like someone who sits down in a theater and keeps everyone else away, saying that what is there for everyone's use is your own. . . . If everyone took only what they needed and gave the rest to those in need, there would be no such thing as rich and poor. After all, didn't you come into life naked, and won't you return naked to the earth?

The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry person; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the person who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the person with no shoes; the money which you put in the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to help.

I know. This is quite contrary to the ordinary American way of looking at things. But it's powerfully inspiring. (I'm going to sort through my closet and give whatever shoes I'm not wearing to Good Will right away!)


  1. I find this fascinating, especially in light of a paper I wrote for class this week. We had to make a list of everything we owned (yes, everything) and then write about how we were defined by our possessions, how we reconciled that with environmental sustainability and how we were linked to the Commons. It was a very challenging assignment, and amazing to discover just how much stuff one person can have!

  2. Oh, my goodness, Maggie. It's very sobering just to THINK about that exercise. Mercy!

    Thanks for telling us about it here. (It certainly gives me pause.)


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