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Our Lady of Guadalupe – December 12th
Readings: Zec 2:14-17; Lk 1:26-38.
1/ First Reading (Zec 2:14-17):
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
2/ Gospel (Lk 1:26-38):
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
I. THEME: God glorified the lowly and humble.
The feast of “Mother of Guadalupe” is closed to the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception due to its historical reason. Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant, being on his way through the Tepeyac Hill to a church to attend this mass of obligation; suddenly the Blessed Mary appeared to him on the early Saturday morning, December 8th 1531. The Lady commanded him to meet his bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, and to tell him that she wanted him to build a church, dedicated to her on the Tepeyac Hill so that she can help the people in the area. The bishop said he needs time to think about it. The Lady appeared to him second time and reminded him of her request. He came to remind the bishop who told him that he needs a sign to know the request truly came from the Lady. Diego reported the bishop’s request to the Lady, and she promised that she shall grant the request on the next apparition on December 11. Due to his care for his uncle, he couldn’t meet the Lady on the day of appointment. On the next day, December 12, Juan Diego intentionally chose a different path to the local parish to ask the priest there to come and to anoint his uncle. However, the Lady still appeared to him. She asked him to gather the roses on the Tepeyac Hill, which never been grown on this barren hill. After gathering the flowers, the Lady arranged them on his cloak and asked him to wear it and sent him on the way to meet the bishop. When he met him, he opened his cloak and all the roses were felt down. On his cloak, there is the image of the “Mother of Guadalupe.” The bishop knew it truly is the Lady’s request and he built a church on the Tepeyac Hill for the Lady. This cloak, after nearly 500 years, is still remaining and kept carefully at the basilica of Mother of Guadalupe in Mexico.
Pope Leo XIII granted a canonical coronation towards the image on October 12, 1895. The representation of the Virgin on the cloak is Mexico’s most popular religious and cultural image, and under this title the Virgin has been acclaimed as “Queen of Mexico”, “Patroness of the Americas” (1945), “Empress of Latin America” and “Protector of Unborn Children” (the latter two given by Pope John Paul II in 1999). Juan Diego was beatified on 1990 and canonized on 2002 by Pope John Paul II. The Church commanded the churches in the Latin America to celebrate the feast of the Mother of Guadalupe on December 12 each year.
1/ Reading I: God shall gather all people to Jerusalem.
In God’s providence, all things happen for the salvation of humankind. In the beginning, He chose the Israelites as His people to prepare for the Incarnation of Christ, His Only Son. In the historical events of the two falling and exiles, the Northern Kingdom (721 B.C.) and the Southern Kingdom (587 B.C.), we can recognize His two main purposes:
1.1/ They are needed to purify His people: Prophets Zechariah and Haggai are the two prophets after the exiles and known for their effort in rebuilding the Temple Jerusalem and its walls which were completely destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. The new Temple was dedicated by Nehemiah, the governor, and Ezra, the scribe, on 515 B.C. On the day of dedication, Ezra and his priests made people to hear the Law and the Prophets from early in the morning to late in the afternoon. His purpose is to let people know God’s wonderful providence, their sins is the main reason of their exiles and the destruction of the nation and the Temple. On his sermon, he emphasized God’s love for them by stimulating Cyrus, the Persian King, to issue a decree to release them back to their country. Moreover, he also helped them to have financial mean to rebuild the Temple, after fifty years of exile as foretold by the prophets (c.f. Ezra 8-9).
Therefore, the first benefit from these historical events is to purify the Israelites, to help them to recognize their sins and to repent from them. To God, to destroy and to rebuild are easily done for the purpose of purification so that He can live among them. In today Zechariah’s passage, the prophet called people to rejoice because God is coming to people again, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.”
1.2/ They are needed for evangelization: In order for the Gentiles to believe in God, there must be preachers and witnesses. The Israelites became preachers and witnesses though against their will. God can use imperfect instruments to fulfill His will. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when God recovers the Israelites from the exile; there shall be not only the Israelites but also others’ children from many nations and they shall be also God’s people (c.f. Isa 49:6, 52:10, and 60:3-11). On Zechariah’s today passage, the prophet also mentioned this fact, “Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.”
On the first apparition, the Lady commanded Juan Diego to meet his bishop for building a church, specially dedicated to her name on the Tepeyac Hill. Her purpose is for her to live among the native people to share their sufferings and to show them the way to God. This event has helped people of this youngest continent to know God and to become His people during the last five hundred years. We must recognize God’s providence and our Mother’s love for people through this event.
2/ Gospel: Christ incarnated after the word “Fiat” of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2.1/ God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah: First, we need to make clear that verse 26 in this passage is Luke’s introduction before he entered into details the Annunciation event. This understanding helps us to avoid the question: Why the Virgin Mary said “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” in verse 34, while in verse 26 described, “To a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph.”
We could say that most of the Blessed Mary’s titles which the Church declared through generations, have their origins in the details of the Annunciation.
(1) Mary is full of grace and God is always with her, as Gabriel’s salute to Mary: “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
(2) Mary is always in good standing with God: The angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” This shows Mary is always free from sin. The title “Immaculate Conception” which we are praising today found its origin here.
(3) Mary is the Mother of God: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Mary is the Mother of God because Jesus is the Son of the Most High.
(4) Mary is the one who brings God’s promise to our forefathers to fulfillment: “And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
2.2/ The conflict between God’s and Mary’s will: When Mary knew God’s will through the angel’s revelation, she also declared her will to the angel that she was wanting to live a consecrated life: “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” The angel revealed to Mary the mysterious conception which was different with all conception in human history: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”
This means Mary had conception while she is still a virgin, as foretold in Isaiah 7:14 and repeated in Matthew 1:23. St. Luke ascertained this by Gabriel’s words: “For with God nothing will be impossible.” If God let those who conceived in their own ages, such as Sarah, Abraham’s wife, Sampson’s mother, Samuel’s mother, and Elisabeth, Mary’s kinswoman, He can also let Mary to conceive and to be a virgin. Nothing is impossible to Him.
2.3/ Mary’s Fiat: Mary’s answer to God taught us two things. The first is her humble attitude when she said to the angel: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” The second is her obedience to do God’s will: “Let it be to me according to your word.” With these two proper attitudes, she conceived Christ and opened the salvation age for all humankind.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God and our Mother love those who are lowly and humble. God chose Mary to bear His Son because of her humility and obedience. Mary chose Juan Diego to convey her message to the bishop because he is humble and obedient.
– The original sin is the result of Adam and Eve’s pride and disobedience. We must recognize the dangers of these two sins and to try our best to root them out from our life.
– We are still fighting against Satan and his companions because it is the continuous enmity; but we are promised by God that we shall be victorious if we are always humble and do God’s will as Christ and Mary have done.