IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Mary, the Mother of God is “the mother of all of us,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in his homily for midnight Mass celebrated at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“We can cry to her, we can share with her our joys and sorrows,” he said. “We can trust in her protection! Who we are, where we are going, all our troubles and sufferings — everything lies within her merciful and compassionate gaze.”
As her feast day approached, he said, he thought about “her humility, her tender love for even the least of us, her children.”
Mary is the Queen of Heaven and yet as Our Lady of Guadalupe, “she bends down to show herself to a humble person, a poor man of the people. Not to the bishops, not to the nobility” but to St. Juan Diego.
In fact, “Juan Diego begs her to choose someone more high class, more respected in society,” Archbishop Gomez said, but no, she chose him, and she had a mission for him — one only he could carry out.
“Listen, my dearest and youngest son … where are you going?” were her first words to him, the archbishop said. “And I think that Our Lady’s question is also for us. Where are we going? With all our fears and uncertainties, with all our miseries and responsibilities?
“Do we know that our Holy Mother goes with us, that we are always and forever precious and protected in her eyes?”
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near modern-day Mexico City. She appeared for the first time at dawn Dec. 9, 1531, and said she wanted a church built in her honor on that hill. He went to the bishop to share this news, but was put off by the prelate.
She appeared again, and Juan Diego — who was called by name by the lady in the apparition — again approached the bishop. The bishop asked for a sign from her and Mary produced enough roses in December to fill Juan Diego’s tilma.
When he emptied the cloak and the rose fell in front of the bishop, he found that she had left her image on the tilma, which remains today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is the world’s most visited Marian shrine. St. Juan Diego was canonized in 2002. His feast day is Dec. 9.
The mission Mary gave to Juan Diego is “our mission,” Archbishop Gomez said. It’s “a humble mission, but it is noble — because it comes from Our Lady! And, as with Juan Diego, no one else can do the mission that is entrusted to you.”
“She is asking us to do what she does — she is asking us to bring Jesus into every corner of our lives!” Archbishop Gomez said. “She is asking us to bring his love into our homes, to make our Lord present in our conversations, in the way we care for one another. She is asking us to carry Jesus into our schools, into the places where we work, into our society.”
“If we all do this,” he added, “the world will be filled with the love of Jesus!”
We must carry out her “precious will” even “when the road is painful,” he said.
St. Juan Diego had “many burdens and responsibilities,” including caring for a sick and dying uncle — just like so many people today care for loved ones, Archbishop Gomez said, and he had his faith challenged, with “people calling him a liar, treating him badly, casting him out and telling him that what he believed was not real.”
“This is a reality for us, too,” the prelate said. “We live every day in a society that denies the truth of our religion, we are every day breathing an atmosphere of secularism that tells us that God does not matter, that God is not alive.
“We face the same challenges that St. Juan Diego faced. All of us,” Archbishop Gomez added. “But tonight, we can stand strong because we know the promise of the Virgin. She will reward us for our labors, for serving her. Just as she did with Juan Diego.”
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