Joy

READINGS: ZEP. 3: 14-18a; PHIL.4:4-7; LUKE 3: 10-18.

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent as well as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To the liturgists among us, the priority is given to celebrating the Third Sunday of Advent but to many people, nothing can trump honoring Nuestra Senora de la Guadalupe.

The Third Sunday of Advent is called ‘Gaudete Sunday’ – with a focus on joy. So how can we connect joy and Our Lady of Guadalupe? Quite easily, I think!

The story of the apparition of Mary to Juan Diego is well known.

Ten years after the conquest by the Spanish, Mexico was in a state of devastation: massive deaths due to disease, collapse of the old social order and the pagan religion which was powerless for the Indian peoples. In this context of despair and confusion a remarkable event occurred, the apparition of Mary to a young convent, Juan Diego. On December 12, 1531 Mary appeared a second time to Juan, on his way to locate a priest for his dying uncle. Mary spoke to Juan in Nahuatl (the indigenous language) and said “Am I not here who am your mother?” Then she told Juan that his uncle was healed and to go to the archbishop, telling him to build a church on Tepayac hill (i.e. the site of the appearance) in her honor. Juan, a poor illiterate convert, then went to a skeptical Archbishop Zumarraga (a Franciscan, I might add 😊 ) and to convince him opened his cloak out of which dropped red roses (an impossibility at that time in December). The result was that the archbishop had a basilica constructed, which remains today one of the main pilgrimage shrines in the Catholic Church.

So how do we connect Gaudete Sunday’s theme of joy to this incredible feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe? What could be more joyful than Mary appearing in native dress, speaking not Spanish but the local language, healing an elder and addressing Juan Diego (a member of a conquered people) as his mother. Unexpected, shocking and a reason for rejoicing; a reminder that our God allows us to see that God’s love (in this case through His mother) can come even in time of social chaos and despair.

God can likewise offer us hope and joy- today let us remember how God has spoken to us in the past.

MDA doctors bring healing and for a sick or disabled person this can allow for resumption of normal life with friends and family. Joy for the poor! Please support MDA to bring hope, healing and joy to so many of God’s poor.

God bless you and Happy Third Sunday of Advent!

Br. John Kiesler, OFM

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