07 Dec – Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop, doctor of the Church
St. Ambrose (340-397) was of Roman nobility, and the brother of Sts. Marcellina and Satyrus. He was educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome. He was a poet and a noted orator. A convert to Christianity, he was also the governor of Milan.
When the bishop of Milan died, a dispute arose over his replacement which led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that while he was still an unbaptised catechumen, he was chosen to fill the see. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but to prevent further violence, he assented, and on Dec 7, 374, he was baptised, ordained a priest, and consecrated as bishop. He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did, and as an example to his flock.
He was known for being a preacher, a teacher, a bible student, and a writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against pagans and Arians> His preaching helped converted St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptised and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching also brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins. He called and chaired several theological councils during his time as bishop, many devoted to fight heresy. He welcomed Sts. Ursus and Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelise in Gaul and Germany. He was proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.
The title “Honey-tongued Doctor”, initially bestowed because of his speaking and preaching ability, led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.
– Patron Saint Index
The Lord says this:
In a short time, a very short time,
shall not Lebanon become fertile land
and fertile land turn into forest?
The deaf, that day,
will hear the words of a book
and, after shadow and darkness,
the eyes of the blind will see.
But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more
and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel;
for tyrants shall be no more, and scoffers vanish,
and all be destroyed who are disposed to do evil:
those who gossip to incriminate others,
those who try at the gate to trip the arbitrator
and get the upright man’s case dismissed for groundless reasons.
Therefore the Lord speaks,
the God of the House of Jacob,
No longer shall Jacob be ashamed,
no more shall his face grow pale,
for he shall see what my hands have done in his midst,
he shall hold my name holy.
They will hallow the Holy One of Jacob,
stand in awe of the God of Israel.
Erring spirits will learn wisdom
and murmurers accept instruction.
As Jesus went on his way two blind men followed him shouting, “Take pity on us, Son of David.” And when Jesus reached the house the blind men came up with him and he said to them, “Do you believe I can do this?” They said, “Sir, we do.” Then he touched their eyes saying, “Your faith deserves it, so let this be done for you.” And their sight returned. Then Jesus sternly warned them, “Take care that no one learns about this.” But when they had gone, they talked about him all over the countryside.
The two men that Jesus cured talked about him all over the countryside. Do we talk about Jesus all over? What is it that these two men had that we don’t? They can see, so can we. They had experienced Jesus, so have we. They have cured by Jesus, so have we. So what is it about these two men that drives them to talk about Jesus when we don’t?
The two men see something more than we do. They recognized that they were blind, and that Jesus had the power to cure their blindness. We don’t see that we are blind. We think that we are normal, since everyone else is doing (or not doing) anything. Because we don’t see that we are blind, we do not ask our Lord to cure our blindness.
We can see with our eyes, but we cannot see with our hearts. We cannot see that although we have eyes that see, we are still blind. And since we do not acknowledge our blindness, we do not ask the Lord to cure us. And since we do not ask the Lord to cure us, it shows our lack of faith. And this lack of faith, the lack of ability to see what we are lacking, is the difference between the two men and us, the difference that makes them go and talk about Jesus all over, but we do not.
The first reading tells us that “The lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel”. Why do the lowly exult more than we do? Because God has helped them more than he helps us. Why does God help them more than he helps us? Because they recognize all the more than we do our severely lacking they are. Because they make themselves more vulnerable and therefore more open to receiving God’s blessings than we do.
We do not have to become poor to receive God’s abundant blessings. All we need to do is to recognize how poor we already are, and open ourselves to receive his blessings. Then, when we can see how poor we are, and how much God blesses us, we too will become like the two men, talking about Jesus everywhere we go.
Dear Lord, we ask you today to show us how we are lacking, how poor we are, how blind we are, and we ask you to bless us abundantly with your blessings. We believe that you can do this, and today we open ourselves up to you to receive your healing, your blessings, and your power. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who recognize and acknowledge their own blindness.
Sat, 08 Dec – Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Sun, 09 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12; Second Sunday of Advent
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