Sunday, December 11, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe - Our Response to Joy

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” 

Introductory Prayer: Thank you, Lord for the gift of faith. By it, you have enabled me to know you better and love you more. Though my faith may be weak, I wish it to grow stronger. I want to learn to love as Mary loved, surrendering her entire life to the fulfillment of your plans, however difficult or incomprehensible they might be.

Petition: Lord, help me to live the true spirit of this feast day by transmitting to others the joy of your presence and by ardently defending the lives of unborn children.

1. Mary Traveled “In Haste” The atmosphere that pervades this Gospel scene can be described with a single word: joy! From the moment of the angel’s message, Mary is filled with this joy. It impels her to journey “in haste” to serve her cousin Elizabeth and share with her a joy she cannot contain within herself. It radiates from Mary’s person and causes the infant John the Baptist to leap for joy in his mother’s womb. What is the cause of Mary’s joy? It is the presence within her womb, through the Holy Spirit’s action, of the One who is to come. It is the presence of the One for whom sorrowing mankind has been longing since Adam’s fall; the One whom the prophets have promised; the One for whom every heart has been made: the long-awaited Messiah, Our Redeemer, Christ the Lord. Does this Christian joy permeate my life?

2. “And How Does This Happen to Me?” A well-known Spanish poem, a colloquy with God, begins with the words: “¿QuĂ© tengo yo, que mi amistad procuras?” “What do I have, that you seek my friendship?” This poem echoes Elizabeth’s humble question: “And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth’s humility opens her soul to receive the Holy Spirit, who overwhelms her with the experience of Mary’s joy. Should we not also be amazed that Christ wishes to come to us anew as a helpless child this Christmas, silently pleading for even a fleeting glance from the eyes of our poor heart? Will we deny him that embrace of love for which he has surrendered everything?

3. “My Spirit Rejoices…” Though embracing Christ entails taking up his cross of suffering, Christianity is first and foremost a religion of joy. Mary exclaims, “My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” When she appeared on the hill of Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe brought joy to Saint Juan Diego. She brought joy to a people oppressed by poverty and superstitious beliefs, and soon they became ardent followers of her Son. As Patroness of the Americas, she continues to bring joy and hope to all Christians who strive to support the family and defend the right to life of every unborn infant in its mother’s womb. Will not the joy of the Son of God’s coming to us as a newborn baby at Christmas enkindle in us a burning desire to protect the life of all unborn children? What will we do to save them?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, my spirit also rejoices at what you have done for us and at the wonder of your Incarnation. Help me to live the joy of being your follower even during moments of trial and sorrow. Help me to transmit that joy to others.

Resolution: I will do something concrete to help defend the lives of unborn children.

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