Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (our Lady of Guadalupe)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast day of the Church, celebrating the feast of Mary, the Mother of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who manifested and showed herself about five hundred years ago, to a simple, humble but holy man in what is now Mexico, at the site called Tepeyac hill, now where the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe stands proudly as the centre of devotion and pilgrimage, and source of salvation for many in the centuries past since its establishment.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the name given to this apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who appeared to St. John Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the first native saint of the New World, now known as the American continent. According to the tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. John Diego and revealed herself to him at a place known as the Tepeyac hills, as the Mother of our Lord and as the Mother of us all. She asked St. John Diego, if there is anything he needed, and that if there was anything he needed, he would have to just ask her, and through her intercession, everything would be made full.
St. John Diego immediately sought the local bishop and told him about what he had witnessed, but the bishop was skeptical, and did not believe him at first. Therefore, the bishop asked St. John Diego for a proof that the apparition was authentic, and thus, St. John Diego then rushed back to see the Lady once more for this purpose. The Blessed Virgin Mary had indeed mentioned to St. John Diego at their first meeting, of the time she would appear again.
But on the way, St. John Diego was told that his father was very sick, and thus he was forced to miss the meeting with the Blessed Virgin Mary, rushing to his home to be at the side of his sick father instead. However, on the way home, at the very exact time that he was to meet Mary once more, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him on the road, and told him that his father has been healed, and indeed, when St. John Diego reached home, he found that his father had been healed.
For the proof that the bishop asked St. John Diego, the Blessed Virgin Mary asked him to go to the hill, and there he found a cluster of flowers, Castilian roses, which are not naturally found in that land, but in Europe. Then St. John Diego gathered the flowers in his cloak, or also known as tilma, and then rushed back to show them to the bishop.
When St. John Diego showed the bishop what the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Lady of Guadalupe had shown him, what surprised the bishop was not so much the flowers, but in fact that when St. John Diego opened his tilma or cloak, there he saw the glowing and very beautiful image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we now know as our Lady of Guadalupe, in reference to the occasion and the place where this had taken place.
So whenever we see an image or pictorial representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cloak and adorned by beautiful flowers, it is likely to be a representation of our Lady of Guadalupe. And it is in her honour that we celebrate this day with great joy, for through this great woman, many good things have been made possible for mankind, the greatest of all is, the freedom of mankind from the tyranny of sin and the promise of everlasting life through Jesus, her Son.
Many of the heretics and those who misunderstood the Faith wondered why we honoured Mary so much, if she was just a mere human, perhaps more special in a way because she is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. But surely that is as far as things should go right? Do we Catholics and members of the Faith commit idolatry by worshipping and adoring Mary as if she is a goddess? No, and this is where all of us the faithful must be very clear in our Faith, lest we allow the same confusion to lead us astray.
Like the song of Hannah showed in the Psalm today, the song of joy and thanksgiving by Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, who was granted her wish of having a son by God after years of barren marriage, and being ridiculed by the other wife of her husband. She was given Samuel, whom she gave up to be consecrated to God, and then she was given even more children, as the fulfillment of God’s love.
Hannah was humble, and she sought the Lord’s help through sincere prayers after she was bullied constantly by the first wife, who was proud of her many children. The proud was therefore rejected by God, but the humble, the meek and most importantly, the faithful ones are rewarded richly by God. He blesses those who are not proud with themselves and their achievements, but those who put their trust completely in the Lord.
Thus, Mary is truly blessed and she was honoured beyond any other men. Thus, Elizabeth her cousin said about her, ‘Blessed are you amongst women,’ for indeed, Mary was special and honoured, not just because she is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ and not just because she was prepared to be special by the Lord, free from the taint of sin as the Immaculate Conception, but also because of her exemplary faith, humility, devotion and total trust in God and in His plans.
Therefore, on this feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, we look up to the Blessed Virgin Mary who had given her grace to appear before St. John Diego, so that all of us mankind may know more about her and her exemplary faith, and through her therefore, for us to find Jesus our Lord, and that we may be granted rich graces of God, the same grace which God had blessed Mary with, the one who is called blessed among all men and women, for all ages.
What we can learn from this sacred occasion is that, while Mary was created special by God, and prepared by the Lord to be the Mother of the Lord, but it is her examples, her faith, her actions and her loving dedication to God which all of us can emulate. God’s grace flows through Mary by her devotion and faith, and her undying dedication towards her Son, even unto following Him on the path of suffering to the cross at Calvary.
Thus, God had also given us all the singular and most important of all the saints, as the greatest among our intercessors, the one who prays for us without cease, for the sake of all of us sinners who still dwell in this world. That is why Mary, our Lady of Guadalupe, asked St. John Diego, ‘Is there anything that you still need’ and gave him her assurance that whatever he asked through her, he will get it, so long as it is within the bounds of the will of God.
She is the closest among all to the throne of her Son in heaven, and hers is the words which her Son will listen to the most. Remember the wedding at Cana? Jesus listened to the request by Mary, for Him to help the wedding couple in trouble, and performed His miracle of changing the water into wine, His very first miracle. If He would listen to His mother’s request there, then the same too will be the case for us, if we ask Mary, our mother, to help with our needs.
Mary is also our mother, for our Lord Jesus had entrusted His disciple John to His own mother, just as He entrusted her to him to be cared for. Through the entrusting of John to Mary, Jesus our Lord also entrusted all mankind to the care of His mother, who then becomes our Mother too. And if she is our mother, will she not care for us, fight for us and intercede for us? She loves all of us, and she does not want any of us to be lost to her Son.
Hence, let us all from now on reflect on our own lives. Have we done what the Lord had asked of us to do? Have we all been faithful as Mary our mother had been faithful? When we err, let us all correct our ways and also seek help. Our mother Mary, just as when she appeared to St. John Diego as our Lady of Guadalupe sincerely sought our salvation and liberation from sin. Therefore, shall we all accept her offer of grace, which may then flow from the Lord through her, and into us?
Let us all be righteous and be faithful in our actions, showing the love which we ought to show our Lord and which we also should show one another. May our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary our mother intercede for us sinners before the throne of her Son, the Divine Mercy, that He shall forgive us our sins, and in our sincere faith, may He grant us all eternal life. Amen.
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