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Sunday:       Our Lady of Guadalupe
Date:         December 12, 2016
Year:         A
The readings: [Zech. 2:10-13 (Or Rev. 11:19a, 12:1, 12:3-6a, 12:10ab); Lk. 1:39-47]
The message:  Patroness of the Americas.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1299

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Welcome to today's celebration of the most beautiful Marian Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today's readings correlate with this Feast of Our Lady. Both readings speak of moments of great joy.

The First Reading from the Book of Zechariah (v. 2:10-13) was a prophecy of the Messiah who was to come to dwell in the midst of the people. The location that the Lord God had chosen for His incarnation was Jerusalem. As the Holy Bible teaches us, this has been fulfilled. Not only did Jesus Christ come in this world and die on the Holy Cross for our salvation, but He remains with us to this day in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that He instituted at the Last Supper in Jerusalem. [Mt. 26:20-30; Mk. 14:17-26; Lk. 22:14-23; Jn. 13:21-30] Therefore, we have a great reason to rejoice; God dwells with us!

Today's Gospel Reading [Lk. 1:39-47] spoke of the Blessed Virgin Mary's visit at the house of her cousin Elizabeth. Again, this was a great moment of joy. Elizabeth , filled with the Holy Spirit," [Lk. 1:41] felt so privileged by this visit that she exclaimed, "And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my lord comes to me?" [Lk. 1:43] Momentarily before this, John the Baptist, the unborn child of Elizabeth, was leaping with joy in her womb.

These events were great reasons for rejoicing! Most glorious of all, filled with the Holy Spirit, through Mary, Elizabeth perceived the fulfillment of centuries of prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. Over and above all this joy, Elizabeth was excited to see her cousin Mary and vice-versa. And then Mary was excited to see her cousin Elizabeth with child and Elizabeth was excited by the movement of the child within her. There was excitement all the way around, all rejoicing in the Lord God.

In 1531 A.D., there was another great moment of joy. God's progressive Divine Plan regarding the Patroness of the Americas was unravelling itself.

Early in the morning of Saturday, December 9 th, Juan Diego, a simple Indian peasant and Christian convert, was walking the two and a half mile distance to Tlatelolco to attend the celebration of the Holy Mass. As he passed the Tepeyac Hill, Juan heard beautiful music and a woman's voice calling him. Looking up the hill, he saw a most beautiful woman who was radiating in white light. The woman introduced herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, she instructed Juan to go to his Bishop and to tell him that a Church should be built at the bottom of the hill in her honour.

Obeying the beautiful Lady, Juan Diego rushed to Tlatelolco to the Palace of Bishop Juan de Zum'rraga who was a Franciscan friar. As you can imagine, without proof, the Bishop was skeptical. Who would believe a peasant coming to one's door with such a story? Discouraged, Juan Diego returned to the top of the Tepeyac Hill and related his failure to the Blessed Virgin Mary. What did Mary do? She told Juan to go back to the Bishop and to repeat what she had previously asked, that a Church must be built at the bottom of the hill in her honour.

The next day, on Sunday, December 10, 1531, Juan Diego returned to the Bishop's Palace. After asking a number of questions, the Bishop told Juan that he needed some kind of a sign in order to really believe that the heavenly Lady had sent him.

Once more, Juan Diego returned to the top of the hill and related the answer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Consequently, Our Lady asked Juan to return to Tepeyac Hill on the following day at which time she would provide a sign.

On Monday, December 11th, Juan's uncle was very sick. As such, Juan spent the day trying to find someone with medical skills to attend to his uncle. Unfortunately, he did not find anyone to help his dying uncle. Therefore, he told his uncle that on the following morning, he would go to Tlatelolco to get the priest to hear his confession and prepare him for death. Because of all this, Juan Diego missed his appointment with the Lady.

Early on Tuesday morning, December 12 th, Juan rushed to Tlatelolco. To avoid the Lady who might interfere with his urgent need to locate the priest, he decided to travel on the other side of Tepeyac Hill. What a surprise when Our Lady came down the hill to meet him! After Juan explained himself to the Lady, Mary assured Juan that his uncle would not die from his illness. Juan was greatly relieved when he heard this. Around that time, Our Lady appeared to the uncle and healed him.

Then, Our Lady told Juan to go to the top of the hill and gather the flowers that he finds there. Juan did as he was asked. When he arrived at the top of the hill, he found a beautiful garden of roses. He collected the roses in his mantle and took them to Our Lady. She arranged them according to her choosing and then instructed Juan to take the flowers to the Bishop, these being the sign that was requested.

Obeying Our Lady, Juan once more returned to the Palace. When he came before the Bishop, he opened his mantle and let all the roses fall to the floor. At that moment, the Bishop and his whole household were filled with wonder. On the coarse fabric of the mantle, there was a beautiful portrait of the Lady. History tells us that it did not take long after that, as requested by Mary, a Church was built in the honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To this date, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, near Mexico City, is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimages in North America.

This apparition of Our Lady was a great moment of joy for the Holy Catholic Church. Less than a decade earlier, Martin Luther had created division within the Church, this leading to the separation of nearly 1 million Catholics. But now, through Our Lady of Guadalupe, millions of peasants who formerly worshipped the Aztec god, were converted to the Catholic faith. While Satan may have enjoyed a short triumph through Martin Luther, Our Lady of Guadalupe took away his glory and showed him a real triumph, nearly 5 millions conversion versus the loss of 1 million faithful.

This great and most unique development in the history of Christianity also arrived during one of the darkest moments in history. The native people were dying of plagues, diseases and hard work, over and above being persecuted by the Christian community because they worshipped a false god. What our former brothers and sisters in Christ could not do, Mary did! She gave birth to the Catholic Church that was just arriving in America.

Since those days, Our Lady of Guadalupe has never abandoned her children. Healing miracles continue to flourish among the faithful who come to Jesus through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In 1979, kneeling before the miraculous and beloved image on the mantle, Pope John Paul II begged Our Lady of Guadalupe to teach us, in preparation for the Great Jubilee, the path of the new evangelization for the entire Church. Pope John Paul II affirmed that Our Lady of Guadalupe was the perfect image to lead the Church into the Great Jubilee and an era of new evangelization.

As we continue into the new millennium, let us never forget that there is nothing that unites a family more than the presence of a loving and caring mother. Through the Patroness of the Americas, our spiritual family, the Body of Christ, will remain united now and forever.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling." [Zech. 2:10-3]

* * * * * * * * * *

Second Reading...

"In my vision, God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.

A great portent appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God.

Then I head a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah.'" [Rev. 11:19, 12:1, 12:3-6, 10]

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Gospel Reading...

"Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.'

And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.'" [Lk. 1:39-47]

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