7 December, Wednesday — Bridge Over Troubled Water

Dec 7 – Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

St. Ambrose (c.340–397) was born to the Roman nobility. He was the brother of St. Marcellina and St. Satyrus. He was educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. He was a poet and a noted orator. He was a convert to Christianity, and governor of Milan, Italy.

When the Bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but he assented to prevent further violence. On Dec 7, 374, he was baptized, ordained as a priest, and consecrated as bishop. He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did, and as an example to his flock.

He was a noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arianism. His preaching helped convert St. Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins.

During his time as bishop, he also called and chaired several theological councils, many devoted to fighting heresy. He welcomed St. Ursus and St. Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize in Gaul and Germany. He was proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.

The title ‘Honey Tongued Doctor’ was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.

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Isa 40:25-31
Mt 11:28-30

“Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls.”

These times of rising costs and uncertainty have added extra pressure on all of us. We are clinging onto our jobs or any opportunity, trying to make ends meet, trying to stretch our budget and ourselves, just for a little bit longer and a little bit further. Barely keeping my head above water, sometimes I feel like I’m almost drowning in overwhelm. Paddling furiously beneath the surface, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other, hoping to make it to the other side.

Whatever internal struggles we may have, no one knows as we hide behind the masks that we put on daily. But God knows, and He understands. God’s exhortation is not only meant for those who are saddled with work, but also those who are burdened with problems. Set aside pride. Set aside obstinance. Admitting to God that you are overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of dependency on Him. We cannot do this alone.

I have always been one to try to find the answers to the problem before I bring it to others’ attention. I usually prefer to discuss it with others, because I believe that solutions present themselves when a problem is shared; but sometimes, that is not always an option. We fly solo sometimes and so we need to figure it out ourselves. In that sense, I often bring the same attitude to God. I try to ‘fix’ things myself but find that I don’t have all the answers. And then God says to me, “When are you going to learn what I have taught you? When are you going to let me take over?” Slowly, apprehensively, I let go. I learn to trust that everything will be alright. “Don’t try to think of everything, Annette, just one foot at a time, focus on the present,” I tell myself. And in that way, I let God take over and a certain calmness settles in.

God has never let me down. Even though there are times when I wonder if He is listening, He does hear me. During these trying times, I have felt God’s presence with me, God giving me a little push and reassuring me. “I’ve seen the end,” says He, “and I already know you can do it.” The second candle of Advent represents Faith. And in these times, faith is all we’ve got to cling on to. This season of Advent, I wish you that very same faith. Faith that God will see us through, faith that God will help us see a solution beyond the struggle, faith that we will find rest in His refuge.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, my yoke is heavy and there are times when I insist on carrying it myself. I pray, during those times when I am too stubborn to listen, take it from me, Lord, and lead me to restful waters.

Thanksgiving: Oh Lord, thank you for your reassurance. Thank you for coming to our rescue. We pray for those who can’t see an end to their problems, may they experience the lightness of your yoke.

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