Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Is 30:19-21,23-26; Ps 147:1-6; Mt 9:35–10:1,5a,6-8

We are blessed because we wait for the LORD.  The One for whom we wait is called by the mystics “The I know not what!”  He is the ineffable One.  His mystery is so great that our minds cannot contain it and our words cannot express it.  Yet, our hearts know that He is Good, and we sing his praise because he is gracious.  Indeed, it is only fitting to praise him.  The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem, and he gathers the leaders of Israel.  Indeed, He binds up our wounds and heals our broken hearts.  Our waiting is far from passive.  It is full of healing and renewal.  Indeed, the most wondrous transformation is that which takes place within our hearts—unseen and hidden.  The LORD calls us by name.  We encounter the One who summons us, and his greatness cannot be measured and he is almighty in power.  His wisdom has no limits.  The LORD sustains us, the lost and the lowly, and the wicked he casts to the ground.  The prophesy of Isaiah about the Teacher is fulfilled in Christ.  Indeed, he feeds us with the wisdom of his body and blood.  It is the compassion of the LORD that becomes our nourishment in every Eucharist.


The Holy One of Israel speaks and the prophet trembles and the people shake.  No longer will those who dwell in Zion groan and weep.  The LORD is about to be gracious beyond all expectation.  Indeed, as soon as he hears he will answer.  At this moment of compassion our eyes will be filled with the vision our Teacher.  Indeed, we will hear his voice directing our journey to holiness, our movement into transforming union.  The rain is bountiful and the crops are full.  The wheat bears fruit more than a hundred fold.  Even the flocks of our pastures are safe and healthy.  There is plenty of food even for all the domestic animals.  From the top of every High Mountain and lofty hill there are streams of living water tumbling down to refresh all who thirst.  Even on the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, we need not fear.  For on that day of darkness for all the earth, we have greater light than that of seven days.  On that day of fiery purgation the same light that purifies will also heal.  On that day the LORD will bind up our wounds and he will heal the bruises left by his own blows.  Such is the promise of the One who is coming; this is the hope of our Advent journey.


We hear in the Gospel that the Lord took pity on those who heard his preaching.  He knew their emptiness and brokenness.  He knew they were hungry and sick. He knew they were lost and plagued by unclean spirits.  So he proclaimed the Advent of the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom where all will be filled and made whole, where and there is bread and water for those who hunger and thirst, where there is healing for all disease and illness, where there are no demons, and where there is no more death.  He preached, He cured, and He fed.  He made the Kingdom real.  And to carry on his mission of making a reality of his preaching He commanded the Apostles, to do just the same.  Today we are given the same commission as the Twelve.  We are to go out to a lost and broken world, a world filled with disease and hunger, and we proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  We like the Twelve, like the whole Church before us, we must feed the hungry, cure the sick, comfort those who are broken, guide the lost, cast out demons.  We must have pity on those who do not have the clear guidance of the Lord their teacher.  We must make the Kingdom real, while we still yearn for its fulfillment.  This is the paradox of Advent, that we celebrate in a few weeks the birth of a Savior by following the commission of a Risen Lord, that we are currently living in a Kingdom that has yet to come to its fulfillment, and that we are Blessed to wait for the Lord already present in our midst.  We are to become the laborers of the abundant harvest. And we do this simply each day by striving to follow the command of Jesus so like the Twelve we are each to be defenders of the faith, miracle workers, gift givers.  We are to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  This we do under the inspiration and patronage of one of our Advent Saints.  Saint Nicholas gave a bold witness to the peoples of the East and West, and this witness is still bearing fruit, a fruit that will last.