Sunday, December 6, 2009


“St. Ambrose” by Matthias Stom, c. 1630s 


Biographical Information about St. Ambrose[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Ambrose

Readings and Commentary:

Ephesians 3:8-12

Brothers and sisters:
To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given,
to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,
and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery
hidden from ages past in God who created all things,
so that the manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known through the Church
to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.
This was according to the eternal purpose
that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness of speech
and confidence of access through faith in him.

Commentary on
Eph 3:8-12

St. Paul’s dialogue on the unity of all the faithful in Christ is continued in this passage. The apostle pronounces Gentiles as coheirs to the salvation offered by God in Jesus. St. Paul uses the analogy of the “body” to signify the degree to which all are united. He concludes this passage with a summary of the grace and richness offered in proclaiming Christ to the world, using himself as an example.
CCC: Eph 3:8 424; Eph 3:9-12 221; Eph 3:9-11 772; Eph 3:9 1066; Eph 3:12 2778
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations."

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
That my hand may be always with him,
and that my arm may make him strong."

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

"My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,
and through my name shall his horn be exalted.
He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior."'

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Commentary on
Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 21-22, 25 and 27

Psalm 89, taken as a whole, is a communal lament. This selection rejoices in God’s establishment of the Davidic Dynasty and the promise of heavenly support for his kingdom.

CCC: Ps 89 709
John 10:11-16

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd."

Commentary on
Jn 10:11-16

We come to the climax of Jesus' debates with the Jewish leadership. He is in the temple precincts now. He came there at a time when many of those from all over the region would be there, the Feast of Hanukkah. Here he contrasts himself (the Good Shepherd) with false shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:1-16), presumably the Pharisees who fail to recognize him. Using the analogy of the sheepfold, he reminds the listener that all manner of people may enter a sheepfold. Those “false shepherds” scatter the sheep and they fall to utter ruin. But only the rightful owner will be recognized by the sheep and bring safety (salvation). The passage concludes with the universal statement of unity: “…there will be one flock, one shepherd."

CCC: Jn 10:11-15 754; Jn 10:11 553, 754; Jn 10:16 60

Throughout the History of the faith, there have been forces attempting to divide and conquer those who have faith in Christ. Some of these attempts have been simple mistakes on the part of people sincerely seeking the truth; others embraced malice and hatred, seeking to destroy unity out of spite. Always, when false teachers have arisen and have attempted to destroy the Church or lead people astray, the Lord has called strong leaders and great intellects to combat the forces that would destroy the living Body of Christ, which is the Church. St. Ambrose was one of these great leaders, one of the first of that group titled Doctors of the Church.

St. Ambrose came at a time, early in the history of the Church, when great debates were surfacing about the nature and essence of Christ, and his relationship to the Father. There was tremendous emotional attachment by their promoters to varying views called the great Christological Heresies. So intensely were these beliefs held that ardents of one position were actually murdering those who took opposing positions. St. Ambrose tirelessly battled against such attacks on unity. Because of the grace God saw fit to bestow upon him, he left us a body of spiritual work that is part of the deposit of faith that supports the Teaching Magisterium of the Church today.

The forces of division have not stopped and those that would see the Body of Christ broken and destroyed are still as active today as they were in the fourth century when St. Ambrose fought for the truth. His armor has been passed on to us to continue the fight. The armor of St. Ambrose was a deep knowledge of his faith and a keen mind with which he battled those false shepherds. We ask for his prayers today,that we may strengthen our faith and our understanding of it so that we can take up the fight and plea for unity of all peoples of all nations.


[1] The picture is “St. Ambrose” by Matthias Stom, c. 1630s 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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