As Christmas drew near, all the bishop’s thoughts were on the advent of our Lord on Earth. Near midnight, the bishop went into the church, as usual, which was left open all day and night. He walked in softly so nobody would see him. He used the light coming from the lanterns in front of the icons of the Virgin Mary, St. John the Baptist and the rest of the angels, martyrs and saints to guide his way.
He knelt three times in front of the Altar while singing joyfully in secret, “We kneel in front of You Jesus, along with Your Good Father and the Holy Spirit for, You came and saved us.” He entered into the Altar and kissed it then knelt down and started thinking about the manger saying, “Treat me like You did the magi. You sent them an angel in the shape of a star to attract them to Your love. Let me present the gifts of my life: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Accept them as gifts of love: royal life like gold, a life of prayer like frankincense and a life of glorious pain when I share with You Your bitter cross. Count me with the shepherds so that I can present to You all my flock. Let me be there for their salvation. Let my soul be hurt when they are hurt and let my heart ache if any of them leave the flock. Let me die with You for their sake so that they live for You, with You and in You. You are the true life.”
The bishop was quiet for a moment in order to feel and hear the baby of the manger inside his heart. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by somebody’s sighs coming from the stall adjoining the Altar. Not wanting to interrupt the man’s prayers, the bishop listened to him saying, “O Child, the Wonderful Baby of the manger, You are all the love. You are my treasure and my wealth. Behold me for I never complained. I’ll never forget Your love and care for me. Truly, nobody knows my needs except You. I don’t want to beg anybody when You’re the good shepherd. Remember my Lord Your daughter Margo who wants to deny her faith in order to marry an idol worshiper. I’m not a good father since I don’t have the money to get her a bedroom or wedding clothes to marry a Christian man. Because the idol worshiper is tempting her with his wealth, she’s willing to lose her eternal salvation to marry him. Your stores are vast O Lord, send us some of them so that Margo and her two sisters wouldn’t perish.”
The man was devastated and weeping as he was saying, “Take my soul O Lord but don’t let my daughters perish. They’re Yours and You gave them to me as gifts. Let me rejoice in their salvation and not in their marriages. I’d like them to be holly brides to You, the Eternal Bridegroom.”
The bishop recognized the man’s voice especially when he mentioned the name of his eldest daughter Margo and that he had three daughters. Tears ran down from the bishop’s eyes and he made prostrations saying, “It’s your sin, O miserable Nicolas. If you were a real father, you would know the needs of this man and his daughters. I’ve sinned O my Good Savior. Don’t permit that one of Your children perishes. Guide me to do what’s right.”
The bishop prayed silently so that the man would not hear him and would be embarrassed. He said to himself, “The least thing to do is to be responsible for the expenses of the marriage of his daughters. But how can I do this when their father is a respectable modest man who won’t accept any financial help, especially from the church. He’ll surely say that there are people who need money more than he does.”
Few minutes after the man went out, the bishop went to the bishopric next to the church.
The Bishopric Safe
The bishop could not sleep being concerned of the affairs of the man and his three daughters. He went to the safe to take all the money from it and put it in a pocket attached to an envelope enclosing a Christmas card. The bishop dedicated the card to Margo, writing,
After the bishop wrote the card, he thought how to send it to Margo. At dawn, the bishop was disguised in the uniform of a worker, took a ladder and went to Margo’s house. He went up the ladder and threw it from the window then he went back rejoicing.
The Repentant Bride
Mary found the pocket and as she found that the card was dedicated to Margo, she gave it to her. “Margo, why did you throw the pocket on the floor?”
“It’s not mine.”
“Your name is written on the envelope attached to it.”
Margo took the pocket and went to her father wondering, “Mary found this pocket and the envelope in the floor under the window.”
He gave the envelope to his daughter to open it and read the card. Tears ran down from her eyes in deep sorrow yet with joy for what God has done. She read them the card and they praised the Lord not thinking of who sent this pocket. Margo wept bitterly asking God to forgive her for she intended to deny her faith to get married to the rich atheist. She said to her father, “Let me go to Fr. Nicolas to make confession.”
They all went to the bishop to ask him to pray a special mass to thank God who hears His children in their troubles. Margo made confession and showed him the card. The bishop comforted her and appointed the time of the thanksgiving mass. Few days later, a believer proposed to Margo and the bishop blessed the engagement and the wedding ceremony.
The Three Brides
The bishop rejoiced as he saw Margo standing in awe and piety during the wedding ceremony praying from all her heart. After the wedding the bishop was busy thinking of her two sisters. A week later, he sent a second gift addressed to her sister Mary that made the whole family rejoice and Mary got married.
The man decided to know who this generous giver was. He kept watching to see who would throw the third pocket. As it was thrown the man hurried to the street to see a poor worker going down a ladder. The man held his hand saying, “Tell me who you are and who sent you to give us all this money.”
The man looked at the worker to discover that he was Bishop Nicolas. He fell to the ground before him yet the bishop bowed down and embraced him saying, “Why do you thank me? You’re all my children. our Savior Jesus Christ is the one who sent me.”
Tears ran down from the man’s eyes while kissing the bishop’s hands. On the other hand, the bishop asked him to tell nobody until the day of his departure.
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