Thought of the day
Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday of the Third week in Ordinary Time

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 7, 183f. (SC 52)

Friday of the Third week in Ordinary Time

Commentary of the day 

Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church 
Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, 7, 183f. (SC 52)
               "So that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade."

The Lord himself is a mustard seed… But if Christ is a mustard seed, in what way is he the smallest and how does he become great? It is not in his nature but according to his outward appearance that he regains greatness. Do you want to know in what way he is the least? “Without majesty, without beauty, we saw him,” (Is 53:2). Now learn how he is the greatest: “Fairer in beauty is he than the sons of men” (Ps 45 [44]:3). Truly, he who was without show or beauty has become superior to the angels (Heb 1:4), surpassing the glory of all Israel’s prophets… He is the least of all the seeds because he did not come with majesty, nor with wealth, nor the wisdom of this world. But suddenly, like a tree, he unfurled the topmost point of his might so that we now say: “I delight to rest in his shadow,” (Sg 2:3). 

In my view, he often appeared as both tree and seed together. He is seed when we say: “Is he not Joseph, the carpenter’s, son?” (cf Mt 13:55). But even while these words are being spoken he suddenly becomes greater… “Where,” they say, “did this man get such wisdom?” (v.54). Thus he is seed in appearance but tree by his wisdom. Amongst the foliage of his branches can rest secure the night-bird in its habitation, the lonely sparrow on the housetop (102 [101]:8), he who was caught up into Paradise, he who will be caught up in the air on the clouds” (1Thes 4:17). There rest the heavenly powers and angels together with all those whose spiritual deeds have allowed them to take their flight. There Saint John reposed when he leaned on Jesus’ breast (Jn 13:25)… 

And we “who were far off” (Eph 2:13), gathered from among the nations, tossed about for so long in the emptiness of the world by the tempests of the spirit of evil, we direct our flight, spreading the wings of the virtues, so that the shadow of the saints may shelter us from the burning heat of this world. Already we regain new life, in the peace and security of that rest, no sooner than our soul, up to now bent down beneath the weight of sin, is “rescued like a bird from the snare of the fowlers” (124 [123]:7) and has been carried up onto the branches and mountains of the Lord (cf. Ps 11 [10]:1).