By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Father Bud Grant acknowledged at the beginning of his homily in Christ the King Chapel on Dec. 2 that he had his work cut out for him. He would be preaching about the first Sunday in Advent, the Feast of St. Ambrose and presentation of St. Ambrose University’s McMullen Awards — all within the context of Luke’s Gospel. And he would be preaching to a congregation that included Bishop Martin Amos, the awards’ honorees, the Vatican Library’s prefect, faculty, staff, students and fellow priests. Not that he was nervous, of course!
Fr. Grant, a theology professor at St. Ambrose University, and director of the Academy for the Study of Saint Ambrose of Milan, was relieved that the fourth-century saint had things to say about Luke’s Gospel. “He says Luke’s Gospel is the historical Gospel,” and indeed it is, but in passages proclaimed on the first Sunday in Advent, Luke wasn’t talking about chronological history. He was giving his version of the little apocalypse, Fr. Grant said. “He gives us this shocking, scandalous, perhaps terrifying account of the second coming of Christ.”
Luke was encouraging people to examine their lives, to be prepared for that day. “Ambrose locks in on a phrase “the virtues of heaven, or heavenly virtues,” Fr. Grant observes. The phrase refers to being empowered in Christ, the priest said.
He noted that the Vatican Library’s Prefect, Msgr. Cesare Pasini, in his biography of Ambrose describes an extraordinarily well-educated, well-cultured, confident man, comfortable in his own skin, not afraid to speak truth to power. Ambrose was empowered in Christ…
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