37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
38 Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ 41 Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Augustine’s mother Monica surprised him with a visit in Milan. Her son informed her that he had left the ranks of the Manicheans and was still searching for truth and happiness. She carefully listened to Ambrose’s sermons while her son became more interested not only in the bishop’s eloquent speech but also his personal lifestyle. He admired Ambrose’s methodical style of work and devotion to the people. Augustine longed for a discussion with the bishop, but because of the large numbers of faithful waiting for their chance to meet the bishop, he had to settle for brief, albeit very rewarding, encounters.
"At most, I could only put a point to him briefly, whereas my inner turmoil was at such a feverish pitch that I needed to find him completely at leisure if I were to pour it all out, and I never did so find him. Nonetheless I listened to him straightforwardly expounding the word of truth to the people every Sunday, and as I listened I became more and more convinced that it was possible to unravel all those cunning knots of calumny in which the sacred books had been entangled by tricksters who had deceived me and others."
Are the likes of Monica and Ambrose the kind of people given by God only to Augustine and a handful of other chosen people? Lent is an opportunity to look back at our spiritual history and gratefully remember those who selflessly offered us help and kindness and shone light on our dark paths. No doubt our own Ambroses will probably be less outstanding than the bishop of Milan, less proficient in explaining the Bible, and less talented at preaching. But it is they whom God chose to put before us on our spiritual paths.
Lord, we are sorry when we have not loved our Ambroses enough, for being self-centered, and for not thanking them while we could still stand up and defend their names. Help us to apply what they taught and encouraged us to do in our lives. Amen.