Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. (Ephesians 5:11-13)
This verse from Ephesians was part of the epistle reading for last Sunday December 6th, the feast day of St. Nicholas. How did St. Nicholas expose the works of darkness in his ministry? As we raise our children how do we help them to cope with evil in this world and bear witness to the world’s initial goodness? Read the life of St. Nicholas as found on the OCA webpage and I think one can find answers to these questions.
Too often we deal with evil by engaging others in a debate about it, and we argue over who is right and who is wrong. When we deal with matters that way, it usually doesn’t get anywhere. It reminds me of the following words from our Lord:
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
The life of St. Nicholas gives wonderful examples of how he exposed darkness by doing good rather than debating matters. Here are a few examples of how St. Nicholas exposed evil through goodness and love,
- He saved a father from selling his three daughters off to become prostitutes by throwing three bags of coins in secret through the window of their home.
- He interceded with the governor in Myra on behalf of three men unjustly condemned to death. The sentences were overturned, and the governor repented of his behavior.
- He saved three military officers from execution who were falsely found guilty. Nicholas appeared in a dream to the emperor Constantine to have him overturn the verdict and free them.
- Through the prayers of Nicholas, he rescued Myra from famine. He appeared to a merchant, leaving him three gold coins to buy and deliver grain to Myra.
- There are more.
At the anaphora prayer of St. Basil, we call upon our Lord to: “Preserve the good in goodness, and to make the evil be good by His goodness.” Let us encourage one another to follow after the example of St. Nicholas by becoming the Light of Goodness or, more so, the Light of Christ. Let us kill what is evil in us and in this world by the kindness of our love for one another.
Forgive me a sinner. The blessing of the Lord be upon you,