Grains of Justice

The ‘boy bishop’ was indeed the right choice. He grew in wisdom and understanding of his world and its people. Like all of us, his life was filled with challenges. Nicholas and the other Christians of the time were always in danger of being imprisoned because of the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, persecuted Christians. Nicholas was jailed for five years. After his release, he continued to live and fight for what he believed.

“My good man,” called the tall bishop. “I ask only a hundred measures from each ship!”

The autumn wind pulled and tugged at his cloak, but the bishop firmly stood his ground.

“I’d like to help you, Bishop Nicholas,” the captain replied. “I really would. But I dare not. You see, our ships carry wheat that was carefully measured before we left Alexandria. We must take this—the entire load—to the emperor’s granaries.”

The sea lapped at these ships of plenty, splashed onto the battered dock in its ceaseless movement.

“There is a famine here in Myra. People are hungry,” the bishop responded. “Yet you will deliver all this grain to a place where there is plenty of food?”

“I’m very sorry to hear of your misfortune, but the grain is not mine to give,” the captain said.

“Winter comes soon,” the bishop went on, “and people will starve. Is this justice, that some suffer so while others feast?”

“I wish I could help, I really do,” the captain said almost wistfully.

“I am asking for only a hundred measures from each ship,” the bishop repeated. “Do as I say and through God’s power, you will not find the wheat short at your journey’s end.”

The captain gazed at the bishop. This was a crazy idea! Yet there was something about this man that made the captain believe him. He trusted Nicholas even though there was no sense to what he was saying.

Turning to his crew, the captain shouted, “One hundred measures is to be taken from each ship!”
The grain was unloaded, the ships set off for the rest of their journey, but something much greater had begun.

When the ships arrived at their destination and were weighed, nothing was found amiss. The hundred measures in each ship had been refilled, just as Nicholas had promised. The captain and sailors began praising the God they now knew through Nicholas. Everywhere they traveled, each time they journeyed afar, they told others of the dignified bishop of Myra who taught them of God’s tremendous power.

In Myra, the bishop divided the grain among the many hungry people. The small portions miraculously lasted two full years, feeding all who were hungry. And there was still enough left over for planting. Memories of the bishop’s miracles were told to children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Stories of Nicholas had begun to spread.