Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all reminded yet again as we continue to journey through the season of Advent, to put our focus and attention in life at the Lord and not be distracted by other things. We are all reminded that in God alone we will find true rest and true, genuine peace. There is nothing else in the world that can give us true and lasting satisfaction, unlike what the Lord can give us. That is why we should have faith and doubt no longer.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah as is common during this time of Advent, we heard the Lord speaking to His people through Isaiah, reminding them that He has loved them and cared for them, giving strength to the weak and those who were in need of help, guiding and encouraging all those who had been downtrodden and sorrowful among others. Yet, the people doubted Him and sought other comforts and consolation in other things, worldly things.
That was why the Lord gave His people that reminder, that they must have faith in Him and not seek consolation from other sources. For many of the people had sought consolation from pagan idols, from worldly comfort of wealth, power and glory, from human acceptance and other pleasures, rather than to live in the way that the Lord has shown them. What they were seeking were just temporary and impermanent sources of comfort, and in fact many were leading them down the path to ruin.
This is then related to what the Lord Himself said in our Gospel passage today, with the famous words ‘Come to Me all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.’ And then He went on with ‘For My burden is light and My yoke is easy’. Indeed, the Lord once again offered and showed His love, care and genuine attention, wanting us all to find our true rest and happiness in Him. But we may find it strange that the Lord mentioned that His burden is light and His yoke is easy.
What He meant is that, in comparison to what the alternative offers, the worldly consolations, temptations and pleasures, in truth, His path leads to true happiness and joy, although it may seem to be challenging and difficult at a glance. To be a Christian means that we must be ready to face trials and oppositions, challenges and difficulties, especially from those who disagree with our faith and refuse to believe, and those who disagree with our Christian and faithful way of life.
The devil and his agents are always ever active in trying to mislead us down the wrong path, by tempting us with false promises and false pleasures, showing us a path that seems to be easy and pleasurable, good and happy, filled with indulgence and comfort, and yet blinds us to the end result, that if we walk down that path, we will fall deeper and deeper into sin, and from there into eternal suffering and damnation from where there is no escape, and there is no more happiness, only sorrow, regret and despair.
That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called in this season of Advent to reexamine our way of life and reorientate our direction and focus in life that we ought to reconsider our path while we still have the opportunity to do so. Let us not wait until the time is up for us, and what is left for us is all regret and sorrow. We should look on the good examples set by our predecessors, especially today of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, whose feast we are celebrating.
St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin was the one who saw the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the site of Tepeyac hill, now known as the place where the Marian Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared. St. John Diego was one of the native converts to the Christian faith in what is today Mexico, living approximately five hundreds ago. At that time, St. John Diego was a simple peasant who lived a simple and normal, poor but upright life. Upon his conversion he was known for his great devotion and faith to the Lord.
And it was then that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. John Diego at Tepeyac hill, where she revealed herself as the Mother of God and requested through him to the local bishop that a chapel should be built at the site. Initially the bishop was skeptical and St. John Diego himself felt that he was a simple and unworthy man, and told the Blessed Lady of Guadalupe that she ought to call someone else of greater importance for that purpose. But Our Lady insisted on St. John Diego to carry out what she had told him, and eventually the bishop told him to ask the Lady for a sign.
Then, St. John Diego’s uncle fell seriously sick and he was unable to meet Our Lady at the appointed day and time, and as he was embarrassed by that, he tried to take another route to Tepeyac hill, only to be intercepted by Our Lady who admonished St. John Diego for not having sought her intercession, saying ‘Am I not here, who am your mother?’, reminding him that all of us had been entrusted to her as her own adopted children. Then Our Lady asked St. John Diego to collect some flowers in his cloak as sign to show the bishop, and he found some rare flowers at the place shown to him, collected the flowers and brought it to the bishop.
When St. John Diego gave the flowers to the bishop, what was miraculous is that the flowers left an imprint of the image of Our Lady, the Mother of God that surprised the bishop and which immediately led him to believe in St. John Diego’s words and accounts of the Apparition. Hence after, the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe grew immensely, and many people were drawn to God through His mother, and through those like St. John Diego who dedicated their lives in the service of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the story of St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin and the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who called for mankind to repent from their sins and turn to God is also a call for each and every one of us. We are all called to reject the path of sin, and embrace fully God’s love and grace. We are all called to be faithful disciples and followers of Our Lord, at all times and in our every works and endeavours. Let us therefore respond to His call this Advent, and transform ourselves and our lives for the better, in the service of His greater glory. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.