Tuesday, February 1, 2011

DISSOLVED IN CHRIST: St. Ambrose's Homily on the Presentation of the Lord

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon. He was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. The birth of the Lord is attested not only by Angels, prophets, and shepherds, but also by elders and just men. Every age, and both sexes, as well as the miracles of the events themselves, are here to strengthen our faith. A virgin conceives, a barren woman bears, a dumb man speaks, Elizabeth prophesies the wise man worships, the unborn child leaps, the widow praises, and the just man waits.

Well he is called just, who looked not for favor for himself, but for consolation for his people. He desired to be set free from the bondage of this frail body, but he waited to see the Promised One for he knew that blessed are the eyes that see Him. Then he took Him up in his arms, blessed God, and said "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word." Behold a just man, confined in the weary prison of the body, desiring to be dissolved and to begin to be with Christ. For to be dissolved and to be with Christ is much better. (Phil. i. 23.)

Whosoever will be dissolved and be with Christ, let him come into the Temple, let him come to Jerusalem, let him wait for the Lord's Christ, let him take hold on the Word of God, let him embrace it with good works, as it were with arms of faith and then let him depart in peace, for he shall not see death, who has seen life. Behold how the Lord's Birth overflows with abounding grace for all, and prophecy is not denied to the just, but to the unbelieving. Behold, Simeon prophesies that the Lord Jesus Christ has come for the fall and rising again of many yea, He shall separate the just from the unjust by their deserts, and according as our work shall be, so shall the true and righteous Judge command us to be punished or rewarded.

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