Monday, December 17, 2012

Homily for 3rd Sunday

It has been a violent and sad week. It has been a week in which we know our need for joy. Death, tragedy and sorrow expose that the joys of this world to be fleeting and incomplete. A full belly and a warm house are not the same as peace, joy and freedom. In this week we face both our greatest need for God and the greatest argument against Him.

The Rose vestments of this Sunday, the rose candle on the Advent wreathe, the word we hear so frequently: “rejoice!” may seem to mock our pain and tragedy. How can there be joy and freedom of heart amidst the sadness of Connecticut, student suicide, and our own daily sorrows that weigh down our hearts?

But it is into these precise sorrows and to share in these precise sorrows that Jesus Christ took on flesh. So that you and I would not be alone, the Son of God took on flesh in the manger in Bethlehem. So that you and I could see God’s answer to the tears of mothers in Connecticut, he took a mother for himself in Mary.

Think for a moment about Mary. In the face of that tragic shooting many where asking the question: “Where is God?” We know that the whole of the Christian faith is God’s answer to suffering. Where is God? He is innocently and freely suffering on the cross. Where was the Immaculate and Sinless Virgin Mary? Weeping at the foot of the cross of her Son. The mothers of the slain in Connecticut stand shoulder to shoulder with Mary at the foot of the cross.

This past week of death was also a week of life. The 12th of December was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Historically, Our Lady appeared to the Mexican people after decades of suffering: first and most bloodily at the hands of Aztec emperors and secondly at the hands of Spanish Conquistadors. Where was God? In the womb of His Mother who appeared, not European in continence but mulatto—European and Mexican.

In the midst of decades of bloody death, God sent an appearance of Immaculate Mary, bearing in her womb Jesus Christ. She spoke to the Aztec people in their language. If you look closely, you'll see that her dress is overlaid with golden flowers- almost like wrought iron. These flowers are the sacred language of the Aztec people and they tell the story of the Gospel. There is one unique flower, a four petaled flower, that is positioned over her womb. This flower with four petals is the sign of the god above all gods. The god that would come to judge the violent Aztec gods. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe comes bearing Jesus Christ to bring judgment to the violent. Even today she sustains and encourages the life of faith for Central, South, and, indeed, all of the Americas. Let her be our answer because she is God’s answer. Where are you God? Here. Where I remain. God who is with you, Emmanuel, in the midst of your suffering.

Make Our Lady of Guadalupe your consolation and your pattern. She is our consolation because she bears Jesus Christ into suffering. She is our pattern because she bears Jesus Christ into suffering. Our world of death needs the Lord of Life and Light. God has sent Jesus Christ to bring us Light and Life and God reminds us of His gift through Mary. We must remind ourselves of this gift. On Christmas day Mass, we hear the Gospel of John say: “[Jesus], the light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it.” The darkness will not cease trying to overcome the light of God, Jesus Christ, who is the answer to suffering and the source of joy.

Since the darkness tries to overcome the light, it is our Christian duty to remind others of this gift of God. We must pattern ourselves after Mary and seek to make our hearts a worthy temple for Jesus Christ. We must pattern ourselves after Our Lady of Guadalupe by bringing Jesus Christ to our neighbors and our world full of grief, death and pain.

 In our first reading, the prophet Zephania we hear: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!...the Lord is in you midst.” The literal meaning of this phrase, the Lord is in your midst, is to say that the Lord is in your womb. Let us invite Jesus into the womb of our own soul so that He may be born in us in a spiritual way as He was born in the flesh for the salvation of many. 

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