Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30)

In a perceptive article about binge-drinking on campus, a journalist came to a startling conclusion.  She wrote that alcohol abuse results from the excessive expectations of permissive parents.  The parents will tolerate the alcohol abuse of their children as a pressure release from the demanding university courses they take in order to land highly compensated jobs.  In the gospel Jesus offers a much more salubrious way to deal with social pressure.

Jesus is responding to the difficulty that Jews of his day had in fulfilling all the precepts of the Mosaic Law.  He begs the people to allow him to impose on them his way of carrying out the Law.  It is not that he will diminish the Law.  Rather, he will give its practitioners a new motive.  Instead of fretting over the execution of every deed, they will act out of love for the Father.  In this way Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading. “They that hope in the Lord,” the prophet says, “will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings…”

We celebrate St. Ambrose today as one of the great Church Fathers.  He recognized the need to let go of our proud ambitions to achieve fame and fortune.  Rather, he would say, we will find happiness – in this life as well as hereafter – from living for the Lord.