Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures in which we heard of the assurance which He gave to His people that He would always be with them and all of them would be comforted and blessed by God, their humiliations and sufferings would be overcome. This is the message of hope that all of us are being reminded of as we continue to progress through this season of Advent and are by now almost halfway through this season and time of preparation for Christmas.
Our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah was a reminder for the faithful people of God in the kingdom of Judah, the place in which Isaiah did his works and ministry. God reminded His people that He would not forsake or abandon them, and still loved them all despite everything wicked and terrible that they had done unto Him, in their disobedience and rebelliousness, in their sinful actions and lives. At that time, the people of God had long lapsed away from the faith, although from time to time, they repented and returned to the Lord.
The people of God had suffered many setbacks, hurdles and challenges from the defeats they experienced at the hands of their neighbours and enemies. They had been brought low and made to submit before those who had defeated them and crushed them. This was because they had little faith in God, and they had chosen to abandon Him and ignore His truth, laws and teachings, and preferred to follow their own paths and sought help from the pagan idols and other earthly source of consolation instead of trusting and depending on God.
But God was still patient and loving towards them, no matter what. The fact that He still sent them His messengers and prophets, and cared for them from time to time was a sign of just how devoted God has been towards the Covenant that He had made and renewed with us. The Lord has always tried to reach out to us, and yet many of us deliberately ignored Him and turned away from Him, not listening to His calls and disregarding His efforts to love us and to care for us, and we have spurned and rejected His love and mercy that we have been given so generously.
Yet, God still sent us His servants, and as we heard in our Gospel passage today, He sent John, namely St. John the Baptist as His Herald to proclaim His coming into this world and to prepare the path for Him. He revealed to all of us the truth about God’s love for us when He Himself appeared in our human form and existence, and despite all of our infidelities and our sinfulness, He still lovingly picked up His Cross, embraced us and forgave us our sins. And He did so by suffering for our sake, enduring the pain and sorrow of the Cross, that is the punishments for our sins.
As we progress through this season of Advent, indeed all of us are constantly reminded again and again that God has always loved us and He has given us this assurance of His love through Christ, Whose coming into this world we commemorate and celebrate this Christmas. This season of Advent we are invited to spend the time to reflect on this truth about God’s love for us, and we are also called to reflect on how each and every one of us have responded to His love, mercy and generous compassion.
Today, all of us should look upon the example of our holy predecessor, St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, also known as St. Juan Diego in how we can live our lives as Christians more genuinely and wholeheartedly. St. John Diego was also the one who received the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her apparition in Guadalupe in what is today Mexico, now very popularly known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. St. John Diego was a truly humble and devout man who committed himself to God and to His Blessed Mother, and we can follow his examples.
St. John Diego was a convert Native American who was known as a devout and good person, to whom one day the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe chose to appear to, at the Hill of Tepeyac, where now the great Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe stands. As a religious neophyte then, he passed by the site and saw the Blessed Lady of Guadalupe revealing her identity and asking him to let the local bishop know about it and to build a chapel there dedicated in her honour. At first, the local priest did not believe St. John Diego, and he was asked to return to the apparition to ask more info and asking for a sign.
After a few apparitions, as he was delayed by his uncle’s sickness and embarrassed of having been delayed and late to meet the Blessed Virgin, he tried to go by another way, only for her to appear before him again and chiding him, why he did not put his trust and recourse in her, saying in the now famous words, ‘Am I not here, I who am your mother?’ This is recalling how the Lord Himself had entrusted us to His mother Mary from His Cross, and at that time, His mother Mary came to us through the apparition to St. John Diego to call us to be reconciled and reunited with Him, through the conversion of many souls.
Then, St. John Diego was told to gather the flowers gathered there, which miraculously appeared even while they were not in season, and then using his cloak, to bring them to the local bishop to fulfil the request the latter made for a heavenly sign for the truth about the Apparition. No sooner that St. John Diego revealed the flowers before the bishop that his tilma or cloak amazed everyone including the bishop, as an image not drawn by human hands were imprinted, bearing the image of the very same Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Mother of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the life and faith of St. John Diego, his encounter with the Blessed Mother of God, Our Lady of Guadalupe and the message of that encounter are reminders for all of us to refocus our attention and our lives back towards God. God’s love had been so evident throughout our lives, and He has even sent His own Mother too to remind us of His love. Through Our Lady of Guadalupe, many were converted and touched by the Lord, saved and brought into God’s embrace.
How about us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we still going to be stubborn like many of our predecessors in refusing to believe in God’s love and in ignoring Him and His constant loving call towards us? Are we going to continue to refuse to acknowledge His generous love and compassion that He has kindly extended to us? Let us make good use of this season and time of Advent to discern these carefully and see how we can prepare ourselves better so that we may truly come to understand God and His love, and be willing and worthy to welcome Him truly into our hearts and beings as we celebrate Christmas in the coming days. May God bless us all and may He strengthen each one of us, now and always. Amen.