Memorial of St. Ambrose | December 7, 2019

These readings for the Memorial of St. Ambrose recall his good work as a bishop and teacher in the 4th century, but they are also wonderful readings as we continue our Advent journey to Christmas!

The beautiful vision from Isaiah and the psalm is of a God who shows his bountiful love for the people of Israel. There are many beautiful images here which we can take to our own prayer or meditation:

  • “as soon as God hears you cry out, God will come to you”
  • God gives bread to those who hunger and water to those who thirst
  • God is a gentle teacher who leads – interestingly- from “behind” calling out to his people to stay on the path of right and justice
  • God is a physician who binds up wounds and brings healing to the brokenhearted

Such wonderful images as we prepare to recall the mystery of God in our flesh – dwelling among us.

And in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes the presence of God concrete, and invites his disciples into that work. All the things God promised and gave to the ancient Israelites, God provides again for those to whom Jesus’ disciples will go. This is the Gospel – the “Good News” of the Reign of God:

  • People are healed and brought back together and reconciled
  • An abundant harvest is available and laborers come together to gather it
  • Demonic and dividing forces are driven out

And all of this is given freely as a gift.

As Christians we are all called by Jesus to proclaim this good news in our words, but especially in our deeds. As you think about the year that has gone by, how have you been a co-laborer, a co-worker bringing in the abundant spiritual harvest God has prepared? What are the ways you can be thankful for how God has worked abundantly through you for others? Are there things you hope to do in response to God that you haven’t yet done?

What are you willing to do in response to God’s wild and wonderous love?

These are all questions which Advent invites us to reflect on deeply, so that when Christmas dawns, we are renewed in spirit for this work of God’s bountiful Reign. Let us reflect on them, give them space so we can respond in the depths of hearts. Let us together work in God’s field, sustained by the love that God shows us, especially in becoming one just like us.

God give you peace!

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As Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I have the opportunity to record video reflections on the readings of the Scriptures proclaimed at daily Mass. I do so as part of larger group of colleagues at the Conference, along with lay and ordained leaders from around the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the readings for the life of faith today and to share them here, along with the written text of the reflections. To view these video reflections for past and upcoming celebrations of the Eucharist, visit the USCCB website.