Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church commemorates the occasion of one of the famous Marian Apparitions, or the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who appeared before St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin at the site of Tepeyac hill in what is today Mexico, approximately five hundred years ago. This Apparition is now known famously as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and many millions were converted to the Christian faith upon the miraculous appearance and the miracles associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then many more countless souls were saved in the subsequent centuries and years because of what the Lord had done to help us through His beloved Mother, who has come before us, in order to remind us all to love her Son and to turn away from the path of sin.

Back then, much of the New World, the Americas were still relatively newly discovered by the people from the Old World, and many of the natives still did not yet know the Lord and His truth. Many of the pagan practices especially in the region of Mesoamerica or Central America, which back then involved a lot of cruelty and even human sacrifices were overcome by the power of the Lord’s truth and love, and many among the natives abandoned their past wicked ways and embraced the true faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. However, at the same time, the behaviours of those Spanish conquerors and explorers back then also left much to be desired, who despite of their Christian faith carried out a lot of destruction and loss of life among the people by their actions, their killings and efforts to gain more wealth and glory for themselves, a behaviour most unbecoming and unworthy of those who called themselves as Christians.

Hence, at that time of great destructions, harm and desolation among the people of the world, where chaos reigned free, Our Lady chose to make herself available and approachable, just as later on she would do again in Lourdes and Fatima, also during times of hardships and trials for much of the world. Our Lady chose to appear to a simple and humble native man, St. John Diego, also known as St. Juan Diego. St. John Diego was one of the early Christian converts from among the native peoples of the region now known as Mexico, where he became a devout follower of Christ, and was known for his exemplary life and virtues, and who with his wife was remembered for their piety, simplicity and generosity. Back then, it happened that St. John Diego was passing by the area known as the Hill of Tepeyac when the Mother of God appeared to him, and spoke to St. John Diego in his own native language, revealing herself to be the Mother of God.

When he conveyed this message to others, no one initially believed what St. John Diego had said, and they disregarded him when he conveyed on them the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe about her identity and also her request that a church be built in her honour at the location of her Apparition. Then, at the next time when St. John Diego was supposed to meet Our Lady of Guadalupe, his uncle was very sick and St. John Diego had to get his uncle to meet a priest for the Sacrament of the Sick. And later on, St. Juan Diego tried to take another way, as he was ashamed of having failed to meet the Lady as he was supposed to, only to meet her on his way again, and she told him why she did not entrust his uncle and himself to God through her, with the words now well known as ‘Am I not here, I am, who am your mother?’. This serves as a reminder to all of us how the Lord has indeed entrusted His own Mother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe to be our mother as well.

Then, Our Lady of Guadalupe told St. John Diego to show a sign to the local bishop, and asked him to collect some flowers that appeared there at the site of the Apparition that were not native to the region, miraculously appeared there, and then St. John Diego gathered them using his tilma or cloak. As he brought the flowers and showed them to the bishop, what stunned the bishop and all the other witnesses present was not just the unusual flowers, but the fact and evidence that the very image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary herself was imprinted on the tilma that was worn by St. John Diego. Everyone who saw that miracle believed, and through the great occasion, many became believers and followed the Lord, all thanks to His mother and also through the faith and dedication showed by St. John Diego in faithfully living his life and in obeying God’s will.

Ever since then, countless millions upon millions had visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which grew more and more in popularity, drawing many people who were attracted to the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion as shown through His beloved Mother, especially during the time of hardships and difficulties. Our Lady of Guadalupe called on all of us to return to her Son with contrite heart and to devote ourselves once more to His cause. In our world today, at a time full of many distractions and worldly pleasures, of many things that have prevented us from finding our path towards God, the call that Our Lady of Guadalupe made upon us, her pleas that we reject the path of sin and embrace her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, through her, are reminders for us to make amends and to turn over a new leaf in our lives, to become God’s faithful people once again.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we continue to progress through this season of Advent, the time of preparation for Christmas, let us all make sure that we do not just prepare for Christmas physically and in material, as what most people would have done. Instead, we must make sure that we are ready in heart and mind, spiritually for welcoming the Lord into our midst, as we rejoice in His past coming at Christmas, and as we also hope in the coming joy of His future return, as a mighty and conquering King when He comes again at the end of time. This is the true spirit of Advent and ultimately, Christmas that we all should have within us, the spirit and desire for us to live our lives worthily of the Lord, distancing ourselves from wickedness and evil ways, and from the excesses of worldly pleasures and temptations.

Let us all therefore draw ever closer to the Lord and spend our time now this Advent to deepen our relationship with Him. Let us all sin no more, and focus ourselves once again on the Lord and His truth, with the help of His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and her lovely reminders for us all to be faithful to her Son’s Law and commandments. Let us all spend our time now to prepare ourselves that we may truly worthily celebrate Christmas with true joy and understanding, and not indulge ourselves in the excesses of worldly, secular celebrations of Christmas. It is not that we cannot rejoice and celebrate in that way, but we cannot be distracted by all those excesses of celebrations, merrymaking and festivities that we end up forgetting why we celebrate Christmas in the first place, that is our joy in the Lord’s coming and salvation for us.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us in our journey, so that we may remain always ever firm in our faith in His truth and love. May God bless us all in our every endeavours and actions, our every good works and efforts for His greater glory. May He remain with us always in all things, and may His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, intercede for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Matthew 21 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to Him, and asked, “What authority have You to act like this? Who gave You authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “I will also ask You a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptise, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?”

They reasoned out among themselves, “If we reply that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ And if we say, ‘The baptism of John is merely something human’, we have got to beware of the people, for all hold John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Luke 1 : 39-47

Mary then set out for a town in the hill country of Judah. She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and, giving a loud cry, said, “You are most blessed among women; and blessed is the Fruit of your womb! How is it, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby within me suddenly leapt for joy. Blessed are you, who believed that the Lord’s word would come true!”

And Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God, my Saviour!”

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Remember Your compassion, o Lord, Your unfailing love from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, but in Your love remember me.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

1 Samuel 2 : 1, 4-8

My heart exults in YHVH, I feel strong in my God. I rejoice and laugh at my enemies for You came with power to save me.

The bow of the mighty is broken, but the weak are girded with strength. The well-fed must labour for bread, but the hungry need work no more.

The childless wife has borne seven children, but the proud mother is left alone. YHVH is Lord of life and death. He brings down to the grave and raises up.

YHVH makes poor and makes rich, He brings low and He exalts. He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap; they will be called to the company of princes, and inherit a seat of honour. The earth to its pillars belongs to YHVH and on them He has set the world.

Monday, 12 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent, Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Numbers 24 : 2-7, 15-17a

Balaam looked up and saw Israel camping, tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him and he uttered this song : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, and beholds the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled.”

“How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your encampments, Israel! Like valleys stretching far, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes planted by YHVH, like cedars beside the waters. His buckets are overflowing and His seeds are always watered. His king becomes stronger than Agag, and His kingdom grows.

Then Balaam pronounced his oracle : “Word of Balaam, son of Beor, the seer, the one who hears the words of God, who has the knowledge from the Most High, and sees the vision of the Almighty, in ecstasy, with eyes unveiled. I see a Figure, but not really. I behold Him but not near. A Star shall come forth from Jacob, He rises with a staff in His hand.”

Alternative reading (Memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

Isaiah 7 : 10-14 and Isaiah 8 : 10c

Once again YHVH addressed Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from YHVH your God, let it come either from the deepest depths or from the heights of heaven.” But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask, I will not put YHVH to the test.”

Then Isaiah said, “Now listen, descendants of David. Have you not been satisfied trying the patience of people, that you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : The Virgin is with Child and bears a Son and calls His Name Immanuel, for God-is-with-us.”