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Guadalupe Homily

Guadalupe Homily


– Father Johann G. Roten, S.M.

Today's gospel message is about the mystery of Jesus and its revelation. Today's message deals also with the vocation of Mary. This double revelation about the mystery of Christ and the vocation of Mary is for us cause of holy rejoicing and fervent acclamation. Let us rejoice and acclaim our savior and his mother in the Spirit and with thanksgiving for this special event of Christ's never-ceasing coming in this world which is Guadalupe.

The first apparition of modern times, the first which occasioned the foundation of a sanctuary of permanent influence, national and worldwide, was Guadalupe, which Mexicans consider to be the greatest place of pilgrimage in the world after Rome (seven million pilgrims annually).

On Saturday, December 9, 1531, according to the received tradition, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a recently converted Indian, on the hill of Tepeyac, where the Indians venerated the goddess Tonantzin. Mary spoke the Nahatl language (as she later spoke the Patois dialect of Bernadette); she sent Juan Diego to ask the bishop of Mexico to erect a sanctuary at the foot of this hill. The Indian went to Topetlac, the colonizing city where the bishop and the government of the Conquistadores were located. Juan de Zumarraga, the founder of the diocese, a Franciscan, named but not yet consecrated, avoided the request of the little man whom even the servants disdained. However, after the fourth apparition, on December 12, the Virgin gave signs. After the cure of the uncle of the visionary, she sent the Indian to carry to the bishop a bouquet of flowers from this barren site of Tepeyac. He carried them in his tilma (a mantle woven from the fibers of maguey) and placed them before the prelate. At this point, according to the tradition, there appeared in the interior of the mantle the image of the Virgin miraculously produced, the same that is venerated today in the sanctuary.

Some scholars are convinced that Guadalupe had, from the historical point of view, an importance comparable to that of another contemporary event in Europe, the Protestant reformation of the 16th century. But in Guadalupe, by contrast, we find a completely positive and constructive result one of reconciliation.

The apparition of Guadalupe was a reconciling sign between two peoples who were in conflict on the continent, the Indians and the Spanish; it became a point of communication between the two cultures and their two civilizations. The Christian leaven passed by this fact into Latin America. It is in this crucible that the new Latin-American identity was born. This sign continues to radiate as a source of hope and invitation to prayer.

This is a festival of the mother of God whose skin is brown, red, and yellow as well as white. This is also a day to celebrate our rainbow-colored God.

Guadalupe, too, is a reminder of a different celebration, soon to take place.

In Mexico, and among Mexican-Americans, the celebration of Posadas, meaning "shelter," is a highlight of the pre-Christmas season. In imitation of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter, pilgrims knock on doors and ask for shelter on the night of December 16 and every night until December 24. These are nights of religious celebration and parties in peoples' homes.
As Mary is shelter in many ways, let us give shelter, physically and spiritually, to those who lack posadas, to the many categories of homeless of our time. And who knows there may be holy pilgrims among them, just as Mary and Joseph were holy pilgrims.

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