There are a million reasons to be distracted when we receive Communion. But what an opportunity we miss! Receiving Communion is really entering into communion with Jesus—it's not just an action; it is a key part of a relationship.
-from A Eucharistic Christmas
†"Health is God's great gift, and we must spend it entirely for Him. Our eyes should see only for God, our feet walk only for Him, our hands labor for Him alone; in short, our entire body should serve God while we still have the time. Then, when He shall take our health and we shall near our last day, our conscience will not reproach us for having misused it." — St. John Bosco
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity, and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, 'there is no human activity—even in secular affairs—which can be withdrawn from God's dominion'. It means working to enrich . . . society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives." — Pope Benedict XVI AN EXCERPT FROM Pope Benedict XVI
Saint of the Day for December 7 (337 – April 4, 397)
Saint Ambrose' Story
One of Ambrose's biographers observed that at the Last Judgment, people would still be divided between those who admired Ambrose and those who heartily disliked him. He emerges as the man of action who cut a furrow through the lives of his contemporaries. Even royal personages were numbered among those who were to suffer crushing divine punishments for standing in Ambrose's way.
When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose's Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. His own people rallied behind him in the face of imperial troops. In the midst of riots, he both spurred and calmed his people with bewitching new hymns set to exciting Eastern melodies.
In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: "The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church." He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter, sent to Milan as Roman governor and chosen while yet a catechumen to be the people's bishop.
There is yet another side of Ambrose—one which influenced Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.
Augustine found the oratory of Ambrose less soothing and entertaining but far more learned than that of other contemporaries. Ambrose's sermons were often modeled on Cicero, and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. He had no scruples in borrowing at length from pagan authors. He gloried in the pulpit in his ability to parade his spoils—"gold of the Egyptians"—taken over from the pagan philosophers.
His sermons, his writings, and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity, for Ambrose, was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.
The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. The Confessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine's profound esteem for the learned bishop.
Neither is there any doubt that St. Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ. It was Ambrose, after all, who placed his hands on the shoulders of the naked Augustine as he descended into the baptismal fountain to put on Christ.
Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law, and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose' life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world. Saint Ambrose is the Patron Saint of:
"Be still and know that I am God". Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek Your Loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.
Your death on the cross has set me free. I can live joyously and freely without fear of death. Your mercy knows no bounds.
How do I find myself today? Where am I with God? With others? Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church readings audio
Reading 1 Is 40:25-31
To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things: He leads out their army and numbers them, calling them all by name. By his great might and the strength of his power not one of them is missing! Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?
Do you not know or have you not heard? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10 R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul! Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul! He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul! Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. Behold, the Lord comes to save his people; blessed are those prepared to meet him. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 11:28-30
Jesus said to the crowds: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The reign of the coming saviour king will not just bring security and welcome to any persons who feel lost and abandoned. Jesus' kingdom also promises relief and support to those who simply feel that life has become too much for them.
▪ Jesus understands each of us better than we understand ourselves, his heart – gentle and humble, goes out to us.
▪ One day Jesus will invite his band of first followers to come apart to a quiet place and to rest a while. They will feel at ease in his presence and be rejuvenated.
▪ This 'rest' – a sense of having been accepted, banishes weariness and renews our energy. No surprise here - the Saviour Lord himself happens to be the energy-centre of the universe, the creator - the one who drills the stars.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
Every human being has times of discouragement, times when we "faint and grow weary . . . stagger and fall" (Isaiah 40:30). It's easy to identify with Jacob when he says, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God" (40:27). It's in times like these that we are most vulnerable to the lies and half-truths of the devil. And so the prophet in today's first reading gives us ammunition against such attacks.
Sometimes our situation seems so hopeless that we are convinced there is nothing God can do for us. But Isaiah reminds us to lift our eyes to the power that God displays as he holds the whole universe together. Nothing is impossible for God!
Sometimes we feel as if God doesn't know what's happening to us. Here, Isaiah reminds us. "His knowledge is beyond scrutiny" (Isaiah 40:28). Not even the smallest detail escapes his notice.
It's tempting to think that God has more important things to worry about than our little lives. But again Isaiah corrects us: "He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound" (Isaiah 40:29). This promise also puts an end to the lie that God doesn't care about our struggles or trials.
We may think that we don't deserve God's help and that we may even bear part of the blame for how things have gotten so bad. But don't get mired in guilt. God's mercy is always available, even when we don't deserve it. That's the definition of mercy after all! Yes, "he pardons all your iniquities" (Psalm 103:3).
When thoughts like these arise, don't just wish things were better. Christian hope is an active virtue. It urges you to bring your need to the Lord and leave your problem in his capable hands. Then you can expand your heart by praising him for his power, his knowledge, his wisdom, and his unconditional love. Finally, see if there is a step you can take that will help build God's kingdom—some act of service you can do. Isaiah promises that if you do, you'll find your own strength invigorated.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2)"
God says "He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound." in the first Holy Scripture today. It is wonderful and it goes on to say "They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings", and I bet most of us have dreamed of flying, like we are called to flight somehow, but not flying airplanes, but actually fly around, weightless...and that is what we are getting at today as an encouragement from the Lord, and this is found in HIM, His hope...
But first, we prayed today "O bless the Lord, my soul!" This is why we go to MASS, this is why we go to Church, to be Church, to bless God "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Ultimately we are going with our souls inside to give thanks, and the Eucharist means to give thanks, and the holiness of ourselves is what is asked for on that Altar, just like Jesus gave Himself.
In comes the Lord in His Word to us in the Holy Gospel: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Check this out, for all of us that think "rest" means to relax, another reflection I'm reading one of the handfuls I read before writing to you, this one is from who used to be Father Barron now Bishop Barren in Los Angeles, He says of today "And that is why we should respond to this compelling invitation: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." What everyone wants is rest, but not in the sense of relaxation or unwinding. Rest here means fulfillment, achievement of joy. _ The great illusion is that joy will come from filling up the ego with goods. In fact, it will come from emptying out, from turning one's life over to the direction of God. Jesus is actually bearing the yoke himself, since he is yoked to the Father, doing only what he sees the Father doing. _ What he is saying in the Gospel, therefore, is to stand next to him, just as one ox stands next to the other as they pull together. Just as Jesus is yoked to the Father, so we should be yoked to him, obeying him as he obeys the Father. In doing this, Jesus says, we will find "rest."
And the Lord ends with that yoke thing, something we are unfamiliar with in modern times. It's that piece of wood that links two creatures to pull a workload. He is inviting us to this work, and He is more powerful, therefore inviting you to a work that is powerful. You can feel His power when you are working with HIM and not against Him. Together, you will go a long, LONG ways, not a simple fizzling out as when you try to go it alone. He says "take up your cross daily", and He binds Himself with us. And the cross is His saving works. This day will have been wasted if you did not work on saving souls. When we go to receive the Eucharist, we go simply to get fortified and nourished to go out and get back to work. It is then, the beginning and the end of life, a full circle energized by HIM. I invite you to this energy, to this exciter, to this physical and spiritual reaction that is taking place at the same time. When you zoom out of the world, you can see part of it covered in darkness, and if you look closely, there are lights spreading across the world. It is indeed, the fire of the LORD, help spread the fire! He is coming...