One Minute Reflection – 7 December – Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent, Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 96: 1-3 and 10-13; Matthew 18: 12-14 and the Memorial of St Ambrose (c 340-397) Father and Doctor of the Church
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” Matthew 18:12
REFLECTION – “Imagine to yourself the sadness of the poor shepherd, whose sheep has strayed. The only thing to be heard in the fields roundabout, is the call of this unfortunate lad who, having abandoned the better part of the flock, runs about in woods and hills, passes by thicket and bush, mourning and calling out as hard as he can, unable to make up his mind to go back, until he has found his sheep again and led it back to the fold.
Here is what the Son of God did when men had gone astray, through their disobedience, from their Creator’s way of behaving. He came down to earth and did not stint, either care or labour ,to restore us again to the state from which we had fallen. It is what He still does daily for those who separate themselves from Him by sin. He tracks them down, so to speak, never ceasing to call them back, until He has restored them to the way of salvation. And indeed, if He did not wear Himself out in this way, you well know what would become of us after the first mortal sin – it would be impossible for us to come back again … It is He who has to make all the advances, Who must show us His grace, Who must follow after us, Who must invite us to take pity on ourselves, without which, we would never dream of asking His mercy …
The zeal with which God pursues us is undoubtedly the result of a very great mercy. But the sweetness by which this zeal is accompanied shows an even more wonderful goodness. Notwithstanding the immense desire He has to cause us to return, He never uses force; He only makes use of gentleness for this purpose. In all the Gospel I see no sinner who was invited to repent except by endearments and kindness.” – St Claude la Colombière SJ (1641-1682) “Apostle of the Sacred Heart” (A sermon preached in London before the Duchess of York).
PRAYER – Lord God, You made St Ambrose a teacher of the Catholic Faith and a pattern of apostolic fortitude. Raise up in the Church today, men after Your own heart, to lead Your people with wisdom, strength and courage in the face of widespread evil. And may his prayers intercede for us all. We make our prayer, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.