11 December 2016
My teacher in first grade at St. Florian’s School was Sr. Primosa–a wonderful woman.
About this time of year Sr. Primosa told us the story of St. Nicholas.
And, how to this day good little boys and girls were rewarded by Saint Nicholas on 6 December.
As a child it sounded like another Christmas to me. Wow!
The morning of 6 December I woke up and my mother could not figure out why in the heck
I was racing all over the house looking.
I found nothing. No promised stocking full of goodies. I began to cry.
I was too embarrassed to tell my mother why. But I did tell Sr. Primosa.
She took me very seriously and said it was not because I had been bad,
but because I had not put out a stocking for St. Nicholas.
Next year, she assured me, things would be better.
Little children do not forget certain things.
As it happened, Sr. Primosa was also my second grade teacher.
The next year on the night before St. Nicholas’ Day I put out a stocking.
We didn’t have a fireplace, so I hung it in the closet on a hanger.
The closet was right next to the chimney in our house.
Pretty inventive for a second grader I thought.
I found it hard to get to sleep that night.
Morning came, I jumped out of bed and raced to the closet and looked in.
The stocking was empty, limp. I refused to cry though.
Sr. Primosa was a keen judge of children.
She knew something was wrong. “What’s wrong?” she said. I told her.
“Be patient,” she said. “St. Nicholas sometimes has many children to see.”
I can only guess, looking back after all these years,
that Sister Primosa called my parents and had a long chat with them
about children’s hopes and dreams.
On Christmas morning that year when I went to breakfast my mother and father
with strange looks told me to go get something out of the closet in my room.
There hanging on the old hanger was a stocking filled with treats.
I’m old enough now to know how such things happen,
and not foolish enough to expect all good things come simply because I hope they will.
Sr. Primosa did teach me an important lesson.
The lesson of John the Baptist in today’s gospel.
If you do not hope, you will not rejoice.
If you do not seek the Messiah with determination
–even when all is crumbling around you, you will not find him.
We are distracted much these days from Christ, who is our Lord.
If we do not hope, we do not seek with steadied hears and patience,
we will probably not find him on Christmas.