On December 6th, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. Typically depicted as a merry figure who delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve, one medieval legend tells us St. Nicholas wasn't always such a jolly fellow.
St. Nicholas was a Greek priest and Bishop of Myra in the third century. During that time, Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea where bishops from all over the Christian world gathered to debate the nature of the Holy Trinity. Arius was incorrectly teaching that Jesus the Son was not equal to God the Father, and the bishops listened respectfully as he argued his position forcefully.
According to the story, Nicholas grew more and more annoyed at Arius and finally couldn't bear this attack on the Truth. The agitated bishop got up, crossed the room to Arius, and slapped him across the face! The bishops and Constantine determined that he must be punished for his behavior and threw him into jail.
There Nicholas felt ashamed for what he had done and prayed for forgiveness - though he stood firm in his belief. During the night, Jesus and Mary appeared asking Nicholas why he was in jail. He answered, "Because of my love for you."
When the guard came in the morning, he found Nicholas reading Scripture, dressed in his bishop's garments, and chains loose on the ground. Constantine then heard of this and reinstated Nicholas as the Bishop of Myra.
The Council of Nicaea upheld the orthodox belief that Jesus is fully God and fully man. This is the view of St. Nicholas and all true Christians. The fruits of this council are the basis of the Nicene Creed - the statement of faith for all Christians.
Like St. Nicholas, may we preach the Truth of the Gospel. Jesus is Lord!