Ambrose of Milan: Gait

Home » Meditations » Meditations » Ambrose of Milan: Gait

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve. 1 Peter 5:2

“Ye remember, my children, that a friend of ours who seemed to recommend himself by his assiduity in his duties, yet was not admitted by me into the number of the clergy, because his gestures were too unseemly. Also that I bade one, whom I found already among the clergy, never to go in front of me, because he actually pained me by the seeming arrogance of his gait. That is what I said when he returned to his duty after an offence committed. This alone I would not allow, nor did my mind deceive me. For both have left the Church. What their gait betrayed them to be, such were they proved to be by the faithlessness of their hearts. The one forsook his faith at the time of the Arian troubles; the other, through love of money, denied that he belonged to us, so that he might not have to undergo sentence at the hands of the Church. In their gait was discernible the semblance of fickleness, the appearance, as it were, of wandering buffoons.”

Ambrose of Milan in On the Duties of Clergy 1.72 (translated by H. De Romestin). Ambrose is the second of four Doctors in the Western Church. Today I am exploring what he wants us to “remember” as it relates to generosity.

On this first feast day of Lent, I am directing this meditation to anyone in ministry or who has a responsibility to shepherd others in any way. What’s your gait?

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Peter calls us to serve willingly not for gain but for the good of others. This is needed in every generation. Remember in the days of Jesus, the religious leaders would parade their service and exhibit a greediness for gain. It’s never acceptable.

Gait refers to our posture of service and motivation. Again, I ask. What’s your gait?

In the days of Ambrose the Arian troubles led many to compromise the message of the gospel. The same temptation persists today, and it is only going to get worse in the times in which we find ourselves. And many served for love of money rather than love of God.

Those with such a gait appear as wandering bafoons. Know any?

My prayer for all who serve is that our gait will be characterized with service and generosity. May our voices echo Jesus without compromise and be motivated not by what we get but by what we can give. Our role is simply to receive spiritual and material blessings and to serve humbly as givers.