Dec 7 – Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church
Ambrose (c.340–397) was born to the Roman nobility. He was the brother of St. Marcellina and St. Satyrus. He was educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. He was a poet and a noted orator. He was a convert to Christianity, and governor of Milan, Italy.
When the Bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but he assented to prevent further violence. On Dec 7, 374, he was baptized, ordained as 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 a noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arianism. His preaching helped convert St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins.
During his time as bishop, he also called and chaired several theological councils, many devoted to fighting heresy. He welcomed St. Ursus and St. Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize 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” was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this 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
‘To whom could you liken me
and who could be my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look.
Who made these stars
if not he who drills them like an army,
calling each one by name?
So mighty is his power, so great his strength,
that not one fails to answer.
How can you say, Jacob,
how can you insist, Israel,
‘My destiny is hidden from the Lord,
my rights are ignored by my God’?
Did you not know?
Had you not heard?
The Lord is an everlasting God,
he created the boundaries of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary,
his understanding is beyond fathoming.
He gives strength to the wearied,
he strengthens the powerless.
Young men may grow tired and weary,
youths may stumble,
but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,
they put out wings like eagles.
They run and do not grow weary,
walk and never tire.
Jesus exclaimed, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
“Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”
In today’s readings we hear of the word ‘rest’. There are probably many ways of interpreting this word. Some would read it as, going to God, we will have no more troubles; or that God will do all the work for us. While this is true, the question comes when our troubles, worries or work somehow do not magically or miraculously disappear.
The truth is we are sometimes trapped in our work, in our routines, in the rat race, that we fail to even step out to embrace what God has placed in our lives. We tend to rely on our strengths, to want to be recognised and rewarded for our work, to want to be accepted to want to feel as if we belong. We place our identities in that of who others say we are. We get caught up with trying to prove ourselves to others, which actually leads to us allowing ourselves to be used and taken advantage of.
When we feel this way, we begin to be disillusioned with life and question, why are we doing all this? What is the purpose of our lives?
The rest that God is inviting us to today, is to be with Him. To recognise that our identity is in Him. That if we place our trust and hope and life in Him, He will not let us down. As in the first reading, we hear Isaiah proclaiming how great God is, that He has no equal.
God has already paid the price for us on the cross, and He too is carrying our crosses with us. As we bring to Him our sufferings, burdens and despair, we also bring Him our lives and entrust our lives into His hands. Let us not get caught up with seeking approval, recognition, fame and wealth. Let us seek the giver of all our talents, seek the provider of all we have, seek the one who created us, who loves us and accepts us unconditionally. For He, who is almighty and all powerful, is yet gentle and humble, who knows our true desire and intention, who loves us as we are.
Let us seek His coming. Let us rest in Him.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray for a greater awareness of ourselves and the work we do. Help us to glorify you in all that we say and do. Help us to rest in you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being by our side, for carrying our burdens with us. Thank you for understanding, loving and accepting us as we are.