Wednesday, 7 December 2016 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard that familiar word from the Gospel, “Come to Me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” And also another one, “For My yoke is good and My burden is light.” In this we see God as One in Whom we can find rest and succour amidst our burdens of life and amidst the challenges and difficulties we often encounter in this world.

However, the problem lies in the fact that the devil is never tired of trying to pull us away from God’s salvation, by presenting to us temptations and persuasions, making it seems as if his way is more attractive and a better option for us, because it seems to be less challenging, lighter and easier on us as compared to the way that God offers to us.

As human beings, it is in our nature to be lazy and to be slothful, preferring the easier way out than the difficult ones. We tend to seek the path that is favourable to us, and most beneficial to us. But what we have to take note of is the outcome at the end. Are we going towards eternal life and salvation, or are we instead heading to damnation in hell for eternity?

The path of the Lord is light and yet we often perceived as difficult and troublesome, because we are often focused on the sufferings at the moment. We tend to focus on the challenges we encounter as a follower of the Lord, as His disciples and bearers of His Good News. We think that it is too difficult for us to carry on when we are faced with ridicule, rejection and even persecution because of our faith and because of what we believe in the Lord.

And therefore, there are several ways we can go ahead with this, that is either we conform with the expectations of the world, meaning that we choose instead the path other than the path God has provided us with, following instead what the world expects us to do, enjoying ourselves and living without restraint from sinning, or we can also pretend not to know the way of the Lord, which was exactly as what St. Peter did when he was asked three times by the bystanders on whether he knew the Lord. He denied Him all the three times.

The other way is for us to endure the path of the Lord, by being true to our faith despite the challenges and difficulties. This is the path followed by the saints and the martyrs, all those who have remained true to the Lord despite of the persuasions to do otherwise. They chose to remain true because they know that, while there are difficulties to be faced at present, what awaits them is an eternity of joy and happiness with God. The current challenges are only temporary.

The way that the devil offers us seems to be easier, less difficult to be done, with no opposition and challenge to us. However, if we follow this path through sinning and disobeying God, while now we enjoy the time and the present moment we have, we are looking forward to an eternity of despair, suffering and torment, when the Lord judges us for our failure to remain faithful to Him, and He will cast us all into hell where we suffer because of that eternal separation from God’s love and grace.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we have been given an opportunity to reexamine our lives, on our actions and deeds. Have we been truly faithful to the Lord amidst challenges and difficulties? Have we instead chosen to conform to the way of the wicked because we fear the repercussions or because we are ambivalent and lukewarm about our faith?

Today we commemorate the feast of St. Ambrose, the great and renowned Church father and Doctor of the Church from the early days of the Church, who was the Bishop of Milan and one of the most influential leaders of the Church of his time. He was a Roman noble who was renowned for his great piety to the Lord, who was an administrator and governor of the region now known as northern Italy.

But at that time, there was a great discord within the Church, due to the heresy of Arianism, a false teaching proclaiming that Jesus our Lord is mere Man and not God. And many of the faithful were swayed by this false teaching and followed the way of heresy, including even many of the priests and bishops, and also those in power, even the Roman Emperors themselves.

At a time when there was a dispute in the succession of the Bishop of Milan and disagreement of the two parties, the Holy Spirit guided the Church to elect St. Ambrose as Bishop by acclamation, and since then, he devoted himself wholly to the Church and his flock despite his initial doubt and uncertainty. And soon, St. Ambrose promoted the teachings of the true faith among his flock, and encountered many troubles with those in power, those who believe in the Arian heresy.

But St. Ambrose did not give up, and even it was said that he openly rebuked the Roman Empress for her Arian heresy and for her attempt to promote the Arian heretics to positions within the Imperial court and the Church. And later on, when the true faith returned to the leadership of the Empire, St. Ambrose was renowned for his courageous act of formally rebuking and excommunicating the Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great for his involvement in the massacre of the people of the city of Thessalonica.

The Emperor regretted his sins and openly repented for his sins before St. Ambrose and the faithful, and St. Ambrose welcomed the Emperor back to the Church. From all these examples, we see how St. Ambrose is such a great role model for us on how we should live our lives faithfully before the Lord. We must not be afraid to stand up to our faith and indeed, point out to each other so that we may help and guide each other that we may remain strong in our faith and stay on the right track towards our salvation in God.

Let us all ask for St. Ambrose to intercede for us, that he may ask God to strengthen our courage and commitment to Him, and in all that we say and do, we may be able to show all others that we are the disciples and followers of the Lord, and be examples for one another to lead us all towards the Lord. May the Lord bless us and help our endeavours. Amen.

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