Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church
(Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21.24-27)
St. Ambrose was the Roman governor of the region around Milan before he became bishop of the city. Although he had not even been baptized when elected bishop, he did have a fine sense of theology. At least, he knew that the teaching of the Arians was mistaken. The Arians believed that Christ was not God. Such an idea not only runs contrary to much of the New Testament, it also compromises the efficacy of Baptism. Ambrose was quickly baptized and ordained priest and bishop. He continued to defend the teaching of the Council of Nicea and the Church of Rome that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God, equal with the Father and Holy Spirit.
Today’s first reading speaks of a strong city that keeps faith. Milan under the tutelage of St. Ambrose exemplifies this kind of city. The gospel compares Jesus’ words with a house built on rock. By teaching Trinitarian doctrine, Ambrose was able to strengthen the foundation of biblical faith in his people.
The crisis produced by the Arian heresy is associated with the great feast that we are now anticipating. On the twenty-fifth of the month we will celebrate the birth of the God-human. It is nothing other than a mystery which invokes our attention and meditation. Considering St. Ambrose, a great defender of the doctrine, should help us be more attentive to its meaning for us.