TODAY’S ADVENT REFLECTION FOR THE 2ND WEDNESDAY OF ADVENT, 2016
St. Ambrose (c. 340-397) was not meek. He was an accomplished poet and orator, and a highly successful advocate and Roman Governor of two Italian provinces before the age of 40. He was baptized Catholic and consecrated Bishop of Milan within a week. He intervened in matters of high politics––perhaps the first bishop to do so––and confronted emperors until they unwillingly backed down. Ambrose was not timid.
However, Ambrose did not seek his authority in possessions nor in his keen intellect nor in his considerable successes. To the contrary, he gave away most of his wealth and was well aware of his own inadequacies as a cleric and theologian.
Ambrose found his authority and strength in God. In the One who does not grow weary. In the One whose knowledge is beyond scrutiny. In the One who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. Ambrose, like all saints, became more and more like the God he came to know and to believe in.
That is the yoke that Jesus asks us to carry. A yoke that is easy and light because both Jesus and we are tethered to it. We share the load. And because of this close bond, we come to know Jesus more intimately. We come to love what he loves, to respect what he respects, and to reverence what he reverences. We become more and more like Jesus, the One we have come to believe in. In this sense, we give birth to the Messiah in this time and place and there is no better present that we can give or receive this Christmas.
Fr. Philip Shangraw, D. Min., is a priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids.