I imagine that many of you have had the opportunity to attend a banquet. As a priest I have that opportunity a few times each year. A banquet involves a carefully prepared meal in a formal setting. What makes the most difference is not so much the food, but the company. The person one is seated next to can add greatly to the pleasure of a banquet. I usually look for a friend, someone with whom I can enjoy a pleasant conversation during dinner and the breaks between speeches. It doesn't necessarily have to be an old friend; sometimes it is nice to sit next to someone I have only recently met.
This year for Holy Week I decided to do something similar. I invited someone from the Communion of Saints to be at my side as we go through the days of the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter itself. You may not heard of the person I finally chose. He is not so famous as the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle or Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. I focused on someone who was beatified last November, under Pope Benedict XVI.* His name is Blessed Luís Magaña Servin. You may not have heard of him, but I think everyone in Holy Family Parish knows his nephew: Deacon Abel Magaña.
Blessed Luís Magaña had a relatively short life, only twenty-five years. He was born in 1902 in the Mexican town of Arandas in the state of Jalisco. His father had a small business tanning animal hides which they made into various leather goods. As Luís grew up, he had a strong sense of social justice, always concerned that works had good conditions. He joined the Association of Catholic Mexican Youth which was devoted to living the social and religious teachings of Christ. He also help found a group dedicated to all night adoration of Christ, present in the Blessed Sacrament. One might think that such a young man would become a priest, but he realized that his vocation was marriage. He was in love with a beautiful girl named Elvira Camarena Méndez. In 1926 they married and had had two children, the second born after the death of Luís. I will tell you about Blessed Luís' death tomorrow. Today, as we celebrate the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper, I want to simply remember his life and his great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
A few months ago Deacon Abel Magaña gave me a picture of his uncle. I was greatly impressed by Blessed Luis' face, especially his eyes. They have the appearance of a person who can easily captivate someone just by looking at them. As I read more about Blessed Luís, I discovered that when he was small child a painter noticed his eyes. The man was painting a picture of Mary with the child Jesus and he observed the Luis had very beautiful eyes. He decided to use the boy as a model for the child Jesus. The painting still hangs in the church or Arandas.
As I said at the beginning of this homily, I have asked Blessed Luís to accompany me during these days. One of the wonderful things about the Communion of Saints is that they are no longer limited by time and space, so you can invite him to be at your side as well. Blessed Luís now adores in heaven the same Christ who he worshiped in the Eucharist. Let us ask him - and all the saints - be with us as we reenact Our Lord's humility in washing his disciples feet, as we recall the Last Supper in which he gave us the greatest gift: his Body and Blood offered in sacrifice for our sins. Will you join me in invoking a few of the saints by name. (Your response will be, "pray for us.)
St. Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us. St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, Pray for us. St. John, beloved disciple, Pray for us. Blessed Luís Magaña, Pray for us.
*The beatification took place on November 20, 2005, in the Jalisco Sports Center in Guadalajara, during a Mass presided by Cardinal Saraiva Martins
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Welcome to Holy Week!)
Mollie (Get Religion) on media coverage of the Gospel of Judas