Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (Our Lady of Guadalupe 1531)
Hello. I’m Father Gilles Surprenant. In this second week of Advent we gather to worship the Lord our God in Mary Queen of the World Cathedral and are pleased to join you in your home, you who are participating via Salt + Light TV or the Internet.
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The Lord our God is addressing to us a particularly tender Word today. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord gently reproached his people in exile for feeling abandoned by their God. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” The Lord said to them as He says to us, “Don’t you realize that I love you and don’t get tired, and that my eyes penetrate into the most hidden depths of your spirit; so that I may shine my light into every dark shadow?” God is a divine Spirit and the Holy Trinity remains hidden from our eyes to protect our free will.
God is hidden from our eyes but not from our inmost spirit; so the Psalmist was pumping himself up to give thanks and praise to the Lord. The Psalms are the inspired Word of God because they are God’s answer to the shadows that plague our minds, hearts, spirits, and even our bodies. Christians recite the Psalms, ponder them, and murmur them prayerfully to freely invite the Holy Trinity to dispel our shadows with their divine light and radiant love.
You see, we are not ready yet to see the radiant splendor of God – if we could see God now as He is, we would be seduced, but seduction is a form of manipulation and control. God loves and refuses to manipulate us. A relationship that is not freely chosen but imposed is incapable of love. God wants us to have the satisfaction and delight of truly and freely loving Him.
The Father sent Jesus to us as the Good Shepherd to speak tenderly to our distressed spirits, discouraged hearts, and tired bodies: “Come to me you who are weary & carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
On this day, December 9th, 1531 in Mexico City, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to a 57-year-old indigenous man baptized a Catholic Christian by the Franciscan missionaries. The Lord sent his Blessed Mother to bring the Divine Mercy to a people who had suffered much by the human sacrifices demanded by the pagan goddess. Listen to a glimpse of their dialogue.
“Know my son, Juan Diego, my much beloved, that I am the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God who is the Author of life, the Creator of all things, the Lord of heaven and earth, present everywhere. And it is my wish that here, there be raised to me a temple in which, as a loving mother to thee and those like thee, I shall show my tender clemency and the compassion I feel for the natives and for those who love and seek me, for all who implore my protection, who call on me in their labors and afflictions: and in which I shall hear their weeping and their supplications that I may give them consolation and relief.”
Lady sent Juan Diego to the Bishop with her request, but the bishop refused to
Juan was overcome with shame and then his uncle became deathly ill; so he went out to get the priest but tried to avoid meeting Our Lady and took another road. She found him out anyway and asked him where he was going. Utterly confused, and at a loss for an explanation, he spontaneously resorted to pleasantries, “My daughter, my dear little one; God keep you, Lady! Did you sleep well? And how is your health?”
He talked to Mary as he would have to his own daughter, and most assuredly it wrung from her childlike heart a humoring smile. Perhaps it called to her mind tender questions she heard on earth from her own dear father, St. Joachim. Then, quickly regaining his presence of mind, Juan spoke more soberly about his uncle’s sickness and his intention of going to get a priest.
He looked up to see the lovely Woman smiling most affectionately upon him. With supreme gentleness and compassion she replied – and these words should reverberate from the walls of every church, home, and school in Christendom:
“Listen, and let it penetrate your heart, my dear little son; do not be troubled or weighted down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need? Do not let this illness of your uncle worry you, because he is not going to die of his sickness. At this very moment he is cured.”
Never before had Our Lady so openly revealed the tenderness of her Immaculate Heart. This revelation marked the beginning of the Age of Mary. What saint or mystic was ever so privileged as this humble Mexican Indian to hear, “Am I not here who am your Mother?”
In the end Our Lady’s mission was successful. The beautiful multicolored roses she picked miraculously in the dead of winter and arranged in Juan Diego’s tilma became a photo of her imprinted on the mantle which is preserved to this day in the Cathedral in Mexico City.
Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego and his people - through her timeless and beautiful "Polaroid" image imprinted mysteriously and miraculously on Juan Diego's tilma - and the native Aztec "Indian" people immediately recognized Our Lady as one of their own, yet not of this Earth but from the heavens. She rescued them from the harsh slavery to their pagan goddess, a giant feathery serpent; whose priests carried out countless human sacrifices.
To this day the Mexican people owe their freedom and Christian faith to the greatest evangelist of all time, Our Lady of Guadalupe; for within a decade of her apparitions to St. Juan Diego more than nine million Aztecs were came eagerly to Christ and were baptized. In light of these wonderous apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe and with gratitude for the tender motherhood which Mary shows us today; let us remember now before God those hundreds of thousands who today will die unwanted and unremembered; as well as for those who were unable to make room for them; for they – like each of us – are loved by God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal QC © 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
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