Isaiah 40: 1-11 “…Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!...”
Psalm 96: 1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12, 13 “…The Lord our God comes with power.….”
Matthew 18: 12-14 “…In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
Saint Juan Diego (1474-1548) was a deeply spiritual man who was drawn to our Lord in the Eucharist. So much so, he traveled 15 miles on foot to go to daily Mass, and on this day 477 years ago in 1531 he was visited by Mary, later called Our Lady of Guadalupe. As he was about to pass Tepeyac Hill in Mexico, he heard music and saw a “glowing cloud” as well as a woman’s voice who beckoned him to come to the top of the hill. There he saw Mary and she gave him this instruction, she said "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings." Juan told the Bishop who of course wanted some kind of proof. The proof came in threes, while enroute to meet Blessed Mary, Juan found out his uncle was dying so he missed that meeting with Mary, to go get a priest. But Mary met him on the road and told him his uncle had been cured. Then she told him to climb to the top of Tepeyac where he found Castilian roses growing out of the frozen ground (unusual since they didn’t grow in that area even during the summer). He gathered these up to take to the Bishop, and when he opened his cloak to show him the roses, a glowing image of Our Lady was revealed on the inside of Juan’s cloak. The Bishop gave Mary her church, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.
This is a beautiful feast day in the midst of Advent, as we await the coming of our Saviour; so too many people received the Lord for the first time way back in the 16th century. Fast forward to today, and we find ourselves in no less need for our Saviour Jesus Christ, than the people who lived in Juan’s day and age. And so every year, we start over again in the season of Advent; we retell the story and relight the fire within us.
In the first reading in Isaiah we are encouraged to cry out from a mountain top, “Here is your God”. He is both powerful and compassionate as he gathers his lambs in His arms. From the Psalmist we sing about how all the earth rejoices at His coming, and that God will rule the earth with justice and constancy. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus talks about how faithful is God’s love, because not only does God not give up on us, He goes in search of those who stray; and He rejoices when that one who has been lost is returned to the fold. So we go through the dark time of the year, with shorter days and longer nights, and we listen to our story again, in the hopes that our hearts will be ready to receive the precious gift. The story is told over and over, so as to light our lights, in order to be light to others.
One day we pray, the light will stay lit, and there’ll be no questions, for they will know we are Christians by our Love. St. Juan Diego, pray for us.
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