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Saturday, December 7, 1996

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St. Ambrose

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalm 147
Matthew 9:35—10:1, 6-8

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christmas crowds

"At the sight of the crowds, His heart was moved with pity." —Matthew 9:36

When we see the crowds in our society, when we observe the sufferings and injustices of our world, we, like Jesus, may be "moved with pity." Consequently, we often express our concern (especially around Christmas time) by making a contribution to a "worthy cause." Thank God for our contributions. They are needed. But what did Jesus do when He saw crowds "lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd"? (Mt 9:36)

Jesus' first response to the needs of the masses was not Communism, humanitarianism, secular humanism, capitalism, programs, or money. Jesus called His disciples to pray, to "beg the Harvest-Master to send out laborers to gather His harvest" (Mt 9:38). Then He sent His disciples to answer their own prayer and to work in gathering the harvest (Mt 10:1ff).

If you care, you will pray and work. This means more than just saying a few prayers and doing a few good deeds around Christmas time. Jesus calls us to pray always (see Lk 18:1) and to work as His slaves (Col 3:23-24). Jesus calls us to love Him, His people, and His poor by no longer living for ourselves but for Him (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:15). Jesus calls us to love by laying down our lives for Him, our brothers and sisters, and even our enemies (see 1 Jn 3:16). Will you be only a crowd-pleaser, or, with Jesus, a "crowd- lover"?

Prayer:  Father, beginning this Christmas, may I help the poor even if I have to become poor.

Promise:  "A voice shall sound in your ears: 'This is the way; walk in it,' when you would turn to the right or to the left." —Is 30:21

Praise:  Ambrose realized how poorly equipped and ignorant of his faith he was at the time he received the calling to serve God. He diligently studied the Scriptures for the rest of his life and became such a gifted teacher that he even helped to convert intellectuals such as St. Augustine.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996