Saturday, 9 December 2017 : 1st Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the Scriptures that first of all showed us the nature of our loving God towards us, from the book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah showed the prophecy of God’s love for His people, in how He will guide all of them back towards His grace, and will no longer be separated from them.

As we proceed through this season of Advent, approaching the time of Christmas, let us all use the time provided for us in order to reflect on our lives and on our actions. Many of us have fallen away from God’s grace and walked in the path of sin. We have not put God as the focus of our lives, but rather, we become distracted with the many temptations of life.

We have become like lost sheep, scattered and having no idea where to go, just like the people described by Jesus in the Gospel passage today, as ‘sheep who are without a shepherd’. And thus, at that time, because there were so many people who had become wayward in their ways and sinned, they have lost direction in their lives and sought the Lord to bring them back to the way of truth.

The Lord Who loves each and every one of His people had mercy on them, and had pity because He saw those people who would be doomed to damnation should they continue in their present path. Thus, if we read through the Gospels, the Lord spent a lot of time teaching the people and calling them to abandon their old ways of sin and embrace God’s ways.

But at the same time, He also mentioned how the labourers are few while the harvest is plentiful. This means that, while there are indeed vast potential for God’s work and grace to be done among the people, with many souls waiting to be saved, yet there are only few people who are willing to step forward and take up the mantle of the hard work of those who serve the Lord and preach His Good News.

What does all these mean for us, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that first of all, each and every one of us should do our best to turn towards the Lord, and especially during this season of Advent, we are constantly reminded of the need to prepare ourselves for the eventual coming of the Lord Jesus and also eventually the final Judgment. We should do our best to prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually, by turning away from sin, resisting the temptations to sin, and by doing what is right in the sight of God.

However, that is not all that God had asked us to do. All of us are also called to heed what the Lord Jesus had mentioned in the Gospel passage, ‘Ask the Master of the harvest to send labourers to gather His harvest,’ and also, ‘Go, instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.’ All of these are set to remind us of the obligations we have as Christians to reach out to those who have not yet known God, or those who have lapsed in their faith.

How do we do that, brethren? We should not think that we need to do many wondrous and ambitious large-scale works. Rather, we should begin from ourselves, from our immediate family, friends and acquaintances. We should role model our faith through our actions and by devoting ourselves to God in everything. We should help the Church in its works of evangelisation, by becoming beacons of light through which many others can see God and His light through us and therefore believe.

We should also heed the examples of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. St. John Diego or also known as St. Juan Diego was a saint who lived a few hundred years ago in Spanish America, at the place where now the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located at. St. John Diego was a native of the land, a convert from his previous pagan faith, who witnessed the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Guadalupe.

St. John Diego has always been a righteous person, living his life humbly and gracefully. Through him, Our Blessed Mother delivered her messages to the people, calling on them to repent from their sins and wickedness. And when they doubted St. John Diego and his accounts about the apparition, Our Lady showed him a sign through his cloak or ‘tilma’ in the local language.

It was told that Our Lady asked him to gather some flowers at the site of the apparition, and present them to the local bishop. When St. John Diego presented the flowers, which are not local or seasonal to the area, the bishop was amazed as the very likeness of Our Lady herself was imprinted on the cloak of St. John Diego. Many came to believe in this miraculous occasion, and many people repented from their sins and were saved.

The story of St. John Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe should inspire all of us to do what we can in order to be faithful disciples of the Lord, by encouraging one another to live righteously in accordance with God’s ways. Let us all be good messengers of God, delivering the truth of the Lord through our righteous life, that we may convince more and more people, that less and less souls may be lost from God.

Let us be lost sheep no longer and help those who are still lost that they may find their way to the Lord, their Good Shepherd. Let us be His faithful labourers, to help Him gather the rich harvest of this world, that is the salvation of the souls of our fellow brothers and sisters. May God help us in these endeavours. Amen.

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