Homily for the Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a day when we remember how the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico. The story of her appearance resulted in the conversion of over 9 million people to Catholicism. So, on this Feast Day of the Blessed Mother, we ask for her intercession, that she may pray for each of our hearts to be ever more fully converted to her Son.
It is also appropriate that we celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe today as we gather for our Advent Retreat. So we entrust our morning of reflection to her.
If you decide to stay for the retreat – it is open to everyone – we will be focusing on how the Father has been preparing the way of the Lord from the very beginning of time. We’re going to hear a lot about the prophets today, so I thought it would be appropriate to have our first reading this morning come from the prophet Zechariah.
In this particular passage, we read about a vision that Zechariah had about the future of the people of Israel. The Lord is speaking to the Jewish people, telling them that, at some point, He would be coming to dwell in their midst. It is in this vision that the Lord reassures the people of Israel that they are in fact the Chosen People of God. In the end, they will inherit the greatest blessing of all time – God will choose to dwell among them.
Last Sunday, our first reading at Mass was from Isaiah 40. It talked about John the Baptist being the voice that cried out in the wilderness, urging the people of Israel to prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah that a messenger would come before the Messiah. But John the Baptist didn’t wait until he was an adult to begin pointing others to the One who was to come and dwell among the tribe of Judah. In our Gospel for this morning we hear how John began pointing others to Jesus even before he was born! It shows how John had been specifically chosen by God to be the Elijah figure that the prophet Malachi speaks about…all of this to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord.
As Mary visits her sister, as soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, John leaps in the womb. He was aware of the presence of the Son of God and it made Elizabeth aware. And it allowed her to give honor to Mary, who had such an incredible faith that, even in spite of the uncertainty of being asked to be the mother of the Savior, believed that God would take care of her. Mary believed that the Lord would be with her, accompanying her throughout this journey into motherhood.
Do we have that same faith? Do we believe that in the uncertainty of our lives that the Lord will always be there with us in the midst of it? Do we believe that He dwells among us?
As Christians, we have become the adopted sons and daughters of God, we have become members of the new Chosen People. And so, the promise that He made to the Israelites has now been extended to us. God has also come to dwell among us. Because of our baptism, the Spirit of God dwells within us. We simply have to cooperate with the Spirit and allow Him to transform our hearts so that we can become ever more aware of that presence. As we journey through the remainder of Advent, let’s continue to make that our prayer…that the Lord may continue to prepare the way of the Lord within our hearts, transforming them from the inside out.