For the last few years the local campus of the Catholic University of Honduras has invited poor children from Santa Rosa to their Christmas party.
Last year I came with some children from the bishop’s lunch program for children, El Comedor de Niños. I wore a red Iowa State sweatshirt and, for fun, had put on a Santa Claus cap.
Kids started calling me San Nicolas and soon the university staff asked me to put on a Santa costume to help give out the gifts they had for the kids. I obliged and it was a lot of fun.
This year several of the people involved in the Comedor de Niños decided to suspend the comedor from November to February since the kids were not in school. ( I don’t think this was a good idea.) They said it was because of a lack of funds for this. And so the kids who usually go to the comedor won’t get to the university’s Christmas party.
Last week I got a call from the secretary of the director of the local campus of the university asking me to come again as San Nicolas. After some thought I said yes and so will again be there for the kids.
I can only come for the end of the celebration and will miss the Mass, since I’ll be at a zonal meeting in the Dulce Nombre parish. But it will be good to see the kids there.
In a sense this is just a little way to offer a bit of hope for the children. The real issues are a society that really does not value children, especially the children of the poor. (Why is education only mandatory until the sixth grade? Do those in power want to keep the poor uneducated?)
And so, Saint Nicholas will show up.
But Saint Nicholas’ advocacy for the poor, his opposition to the death penalty, his defense of the Jewish minorities in his diocese, and his ransoming of poor young women from the possibility of prostitution will probably largely be forgotten.
Saint Nicholas was a radical. Would that we would recover the memory of his real holiness and advocacy for the poor!