Friday, December 7, 2012

Influencing Others

     Today is the feast of Saint Ambrose, the bishop of Milan in the mid 300's.   Ambrose was a scholar, is considered a Doctor of the Church, defended the Church against heresy and accomplished many great things.  He influenced countless people, one of which was a young man by the name of Augustine, who later went on to become bishop of Hippo and a great saint of the Church.

     Ambrose was not out to snare or impress Augustine.  He was simply preaching the gospel message with the strength and conviction that was in his heart.  He allowed the Spirit to move within him and to use him in his pastoral duties.  He simply shared his love of Christ with anyone who would listen to his words or accept his example.

     Augustine was not one "looking to be snared or impressed" either.  In fact, Augustine was a pagan in reality (never baptized) as well as in heart (no desire for God or the things of God).  Augustine led a wild and wicked life, and despite his learning was less than open to the message of the gospel.  Then he heard Ambrose preaching while passing through Milan.  With the Spirit at work in Ambrose and in Augustine, a connection took place that set Augustine on a course that would lead to his coming to know and to embrace Jesus Christ, accepting the waters of Baptism, and transforming his life. 

     The story of Ambrose and Augustine is a great story of influence and inspiration that can take place as we "live the gospel of Jesus Christ".

     It reminds me of another person of influence - Francis of Assisi - who in his newly adopted lifestyle of embracing Lady Poverty and gospel direction, influenced many to follow him.  He also, in his preaching in the town square, attracted and influenced a young woman named Clare to leave family and friends and dedicate her life to Christ.  There is a tradition (true or not?) that Francis at some point said to his friars that they were to preach the Gospel ... and to use words if necessary.  Whether it is by word or example, living the Faith, proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ, bringing Christ to others by being Christ for others, is our task.  Influencing others is the wonderful result of fulfilling that task.


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