St Ambrose

337 - 397

 

 

Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

[commenting on the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth]
 
"John leapt and filled Elizabeth with the Spirit; but we know that Mary was not filled but her spirit rejoiced.  For the Incomprehensible was working incomprehensibly within his mother.  Elizabeth had been filled with the Spirit after she conceived, but Mary before, at the moment the angel had come. “Blessed are you,” said Elizabeth, “who believed”.

 

You too, my people, are blessed, you who have heard and who believe.  Every soul that believes – that soul both conceives and gives birth to the Word of God and recognises his works.

Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you, to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each one of you, to rejoice in God.

 

According to the flesh only one woman can be the mother of Christ but in the world of faith Christ is the fruit of all of us.For every soul can receive the Word of God if only it is pure and preserves itself in chastity and modesty.  The soul that has been able to reach this state proclaims the greatness of the Lord just as Mary did and rejoices in God its Saviour just like her.The Lord’s greatness is proclaimed, as you have read elsewhere, where it says “Join me in magnifying the Lord”.

 

This does not mean that anything can be added to the Lord’s greatness by human words, but that he is magnified in us.  Christ is the image of God and so any good or religious act that a soul performs magnifies that image of God in that soul, the God in whose likeness the soul itself was made.  And thus the soul itself has some share in his greatness and is ennobled."

 

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"Nothing graces the Christian soul so much as mercy; mercy as shown chiefly towards the poor, that thou may treat them as sharers in common with thee in the produce of nature, which brings forth the fruits of the earth for use to al"

 

 

"A good youth ought to have a fear of God, to be subject to his parents, to give honor to his elders, to preserve his purity; he ought not to despise humility, but should love forbearance and modesty. All these are an ornament to youthful years."

 

 

"Let there be a door to thy mouth, that it may be shut when need arises, and let it be carefully barred, that none may rouse thy voice to anger, and thou pay back abuse with abuse."

 

 

“By the death of martyrs religion has been defended, faith increased, the Church strengthened; the dead have conquered, the persecutors have been overcome. And so we celebrate the death of those of whose lives we are ignorant. So, too, David rejoiced in prophecy at the departure of his own soul, saying: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’ He esteemed death better than life. The death itself of the martyrs is the prize of their life. And again, by the death of those at variance hatred is put an end to.”