2016 Our Lady of Guadalupe MassBy: Bishop Edward M. Rice Springfield MO
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Dec. 12, 2016—St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield
Homily by The Most Reverend Edward M. Rice
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Today’s feast commemorates the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in 1531 at Guadalupe Mexico City. Mary, looking like a Mexican princess, appeared four times to Juan Diego. She left her image on a cloak that is preserved in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Under this title, Mary was named Patroness of New Spain in 1710, and Latin America in 1910. She was named Queen of Mexico, and Empress of the Americas in 1945, and Patroness of the Americas in 1999. Cardinal Burke would invoke her often as the “Star of the New Evangelization.”
When Our Lady appeared to Juan Raymond Diego on the third visit, he was on his way to get the priest for his uncle, who was sick and desired to go to Confession. Thinking he could avoid the “Heavenly Lady,” he went around and passed on the other side of where she had prior been, hoping to quickly get the priest. No one would fault Juan Diego for what he did. A sick uncle wanted to go to Confession. He was about a good and noble cause. Still, Our Lady had other plans, and her plans would not be deterred. She met him where he was.
There is a beautiful point for us to remember: Our Lady meets us where we are. She met Juan Diego while he was trying to sneak along the other side, trying to avoid her. In the midst of what we think is best for us, Our Lady has something better planned. Even when we think our plans are good and holy and noble, and they may very well be, but they are our plans, not her plans.
There is a beautiful point for us to remember: Our Lady meets us where we are.
Our Lady’s message to Juan at that point is so comforting, “Listen and understand, my humblest son. There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you.” It can often be the case that we feel as if the world is bearing down on us. The problems we often must deal with can almost overwhelm us and even worse, we feel as if we have nowhere to turn. Mary’s words to Juan Diego are also addressed to us: “There is nothing to frighten and distress you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and let nothing upset you.”
How can this be? Well, the next part of Our Lady’s message explains it. “Is it not I, your Mother, who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, in my care?”
Mary has a mother’s heart, and the heart of a mother is always concerned for her children. It is impossible for a mother to turn her heart away from her children. Even if they turn away from their mother and disappoint her, the heart of the mother is always concerned for her children. She worries about her children, she prays for them. A mother does all in her power to protect her children.
In those beautiful words, “Is it not I, your Mother, who is here?” Mary becomes the mother of all of us. Her love and protection and concern crosses all the boundaries that could divide us. Her heart belongs to each one of us as we receive her motherly concern and protection. She is for the poor and the wealthy, she is for black and white and brown and every shade in between. She is a bridge over the divides that we at times allow to separate us from each other. She reaches out to those who suffer from violence. She stands with her children for justice and peace. Our Lady has a special heart for the poor and powerless.
In response to her love and care for us, we are called, in the words of the offertory prayer, to be “true children of the Virgin Mary.” We are called to do our part to “live united and at peace in this world.” We must do our part to break down barriers that discriminate, to be people of hope and perserverence, “until the day of the Lord dawns in glory…”
And so let us invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe and ask for her prayers.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.