Ephesians: 3:8-12
John 10: 11-16


Ephesians: 3:8-12 We can approach God in complete confidence, through our faith in him.

John 10: 11-16 I am the good shepherd.

Some modern words for today from one of our early leaders in the faith, Ambrose of Milan whose feast it is today.

It seems they did things in a hurry in the early church. Ambrose was born in 340 in modern Germany. He was in the public service in Milan. Once in Milan, he moderated a heated debate between Arians and Catholics, From the crowd came a voice “You should be our bishop!” The crowd thought this was a great idea. The people immediately chose him for their bishop, even though he hadn’t yet been baptized! Ambrose was finally baptized and eight days later was ordained the bishop of Milan. He was not familiar with the Bible so Ambrose practiced lectio divina and prayerfully read God’s Word. His wisdom was a strong force for good in the early church. His common-sense wisdom was a formative influence on Augustine of Hippo.

As we struggle with Pope Francis’ call for us to be a Synodal Church, we could do worse than learn from Ambrose. Francis calls us to grow to be a community of real sharing, of real listening to each other and to the Spirit among us.

  • “No one heals himself by wounding another” “if you cannot calm your mind, at least check your tongue”.
  • if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”
  • “If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other to the man with no shirt”.
  • Remember you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you. Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your heart as pledge of what is to come.

Ambrose has these beautiful words about Christmas: Open wide your door to the one who comes. Open your soul, throw open the depths of your heart to see the riches of simplicity, the treasures of peace, the sweetness of grace. Open your heart and run to meet the Sun of eternal light that enlightens all. an learn from Ambrose. As we make our Advent preparation for the feast of Christmas, Jesus comforts us with these words “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep.”

So, in the midst of sad news of earthquakes, wars, and loss of hope for many, we can be glad to remember that God’s love still happens in our world. In today’s world to even say “I believe” risks being laughed at. As we are tempted to trust in ourselves rather than trust in the wonders of the source of all life – God, the Advent message and the life of Ambrose encourage us to dust off our faith, to refresh our hope that life is good, that God is still loving us. Advent asks us to fan our hope into flame as we ready our hearts to gaze on the tiny child born in the most unpromising conditions. God’s word calls us to ‘dare to believe and dare to keep on trusting. 

Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.