Many people know of the RAWarrior – Kelly Young. Fewer know that Kelly is in dire straits having had to flee her home with her 10-year-old son in order to protect him from harm. It is now the season of gift-giving, and Kelly’s uncle has set up a GoFundMe page for Kelly and Roo.
A priest of our Church wrote a blog post about gifting back in 2009. In it, he says, in part:
He had been extremely wealthy, but something went terribly wrong. By the end, circumstances had become so dire, that not only had his whole business been lost, but there remained not even enough to feed his family of three daughters. In his desperation—who can imagine such desperation?—he figured that his only recourse to feed the girls was to sell them into prostitution for grocery money. No where to turn. Nothing to eat. No option.
“Most of us could hardly imagine selling our children into prostitution or slavery in order to have food to eat. Most of us, indeed, cannot begin to conceive of what it must be like to be that desperate, that in need. Most reading this humble article have never involuntarily gone without a meal, much less a week’s worth. Many of us have never ‘needed’ anything. What would drive someone to such an immoral act?
“It is probable that most of us have never met someone in these circumstances; perhaps it is fair to say that we don’t even know someone who knows someone who was. We tend to go about our business; we tend to keep to ourselves. We know what we know, we know whom we know, and that is our life.
“But Nicholas knew of them. He knew that it was immoral for him to allow such a thing to happen. He had the means to help, and did. Under the cover of darkness, having assembled small bags of money (in large amounts), he made his way into their neighborhood, and seeing a window of their house opened, he tossed the bags in, praying that it would be sufficient to prevent such a sin. Thank God, it was. Overjoyed by such grace, Nicholas repeated his secret efforts twice more for the same family; each time another one of the man’s daughters married.”
He is speaking of St. Nicholas – the ORIGINAL St. Nicholas – who was the Bishop of Myra in Lycia, a province of Cappadocia near Turkey. Fr. John continues with a discussion of the fact that many of us have so much “stuff” that we actually need to rent a storage space to hold the extra! Yet, many families have NO “stuff,” and live hand to mouth in shelters.
We DO know someone in dire circumstances: RA Warrior is living in the sheltering home of friends, but she has great needs. She has Rheumatoid Disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) and is unable to work. While disability (SSDI) may become a possibility, it takes much time to achieve, and her most pressing need is to pay the attorney who is representing her in her custody suit so she can continue to protect her son.
Fr. John continued:
“Is it not finally the time to ask, ‘What do you need for Christmas?’ Shopping and getting ‘more stuff’ will never satisfy our empty souls.
“Many of us continue to spend a frantic month searching for the ‘perfect gift’ for that ‘special someone’ who ‘has everything’. Why on earth do we need to buy ‘something’ (which usually winds up begin just ‘some’ thing) for someone who has everything? Someone who has NO need?
“It isn’t that we shouldn’t give one another gifts. In fact, this is one way we show love for one another. But couldn’t the gift for that ‘someone who has everything’ be an offering to someone who has nothing? Even in our day of down-sizing and cutting back, we still rent storage units to hold all the stuff we can’t fit in our houses. Some spend up to hundreds of dollars a month for a roof over furniture stacked on top of itself in a metal building (and some climate controlled!). But what about the poor who have no roof and are stacked on top of themselves? Which needs the roof?
“Does little Johnny really need another video game? The latest mp3 player? Does Susie really need an 18th Barbie? Does Grandma really need another collector’s plate from the Franklin Mint? Do I really need another tie?
“For many, charity is the check we write on occasion during the year to assuage the guilt we have for having too much stuff and continuing to buy more anyway. Such charity does help the needy, and thank God for that much. But more so, we are called to change our whole view, our whole mind, our whole existence—to reflect the life of Christ like St. Nicholas did. So many of us have so much to give—which is not ours anyway. It is given to us by God to be used by good stewards who in turn show the love of God to those who truly need it. Citing the King and Judge of all, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it [clothed the naked, fed the hungry, visited the sick and imprisoned, etc.] to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40ff). Jesus didn’t give new chariots to people or even grant them new clothing. Rather, he fed them (actually and spiritually), he gave them health, healing, hope, and salvation—and in the end, he gave his life for them, for us. This is our calling.
“St. Nicholas was an ardent follower of Jesus Christ. He lived the Gospel, and did so quietly, humbly, and without desire for or requirement of recognition. He didn’t give asking for the new building to be named after him, or to be announced in the news. He gave because God had given to him, and he knew his responsibility as a human being, as a Christian, to help the helpless and to give hope the hopeless. Our call is no different. So, this Christmas, let’s ask a new question. Instead of “what do you want for Christmas?” let’s ask, “Who has needs this Christmas whom we can help?” And having asked the question, let our giving be, like St. Nicholas’, quiet, anonymous, given to the glory of God, that all may see these good works, and give glory to God in heaven.”
We have an opportunity before us. Let us do what we can, what we should, what we must do to help one of God’s children who needs that help! As Kelly’s uncle said, “this is what ‘family’ has always done for one another.”
And have a blessed Nativity, a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a great Kwanzaa!