The Messenger

(Homily for Third Sunday of Advent, Year A)

We have a problem this year. The Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday – falls on December 12, which is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Liturgically, the Advent readings and prayers take precedence. However, many people are deeply devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe: to begin with, almost all Mexicans and many Hispanics from other countries – but also many of us gringos have come to deeply love Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The bishops have suggested this compromise: A parish may observe Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday or Monday – and today honor the Virgin Mary with a hymn, one or more petitions during the Prayers of the Faithful and in the homily. That I propose to do.

It does not take much ingenuity to connect today’s readings with the appearance of Mary to Juan Diego. The Gospel speaks about a “messenger” sent to prepare the way for Christ, the Messiah or Savior. John fulfilled that role in Palestine, but, as Pope John Paul has pointed out, Mary was Jesus’ messenger to the people of America.

We all know that the Spanish and Portuguese arrived in America at the end of the fifteenth century. They brought with them a deep devotion to Our Lady. She played a remarkable role in the evangelization of the New World. In 1531, she appeared to a man named Juan Diego. I do not want to say too much about him because the documents brought to light in his canonization process present a more developed picture of the man. I had previously understood Juan Diego was poor, childless widower. Although his wife died before the apparitions took place, they may well have had children. Also he was evidently not a “campesino” or peasant, but a member of Aztec nobility.

We will undoubtedly learn more about St. Juan Diego as historians study the early evidence.* The most important evidence about him, of course, is the tilma itself – the woven cloak upon which he received the image of Our Lady. Nearly five hundred years old, it shows the face of a young woman looking downward in a humble and compassionate manner. She has her hands folded in prayer and below them are the black ribbons which represent pregnancy. She is the messenger of Jesus to the peoples of the New World. But she is much more than a messenger like John the Baptist. In some ways, she herself is the message. She carries within her womb the Savior.

This Sunday we light the third candle of our Advent Wreath. Its color contrasts with the three purple candles. The light red or pink color signifies rejoicing. Our Christian ancestors called today “Gaudete Sunday,” that is, Rejoice! With the imminent birth of our Savior – and the image of his beautiful mother – we have much reason to do so.


*The Houston Catholic Worker summarizes some of the evidence. They quote Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, who has made a life-long study of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

The earliest account of the apparitions and of Juan Diego's role in them was written by the native Nahuatl scholar Antonio Valeriano in the late 1500's-only a few years after the apparitions. This account is known as the Nican Mopohua. It is more probable that he recorded in a very precise and poetic way the account narrated by Juan Diego himself. Another account, the Nican Moctepana, was written by Mestizo Fernando Ixtlilxochitl in 1590. These manuscripts of the earliest account, along with many others, can be found in the Lennox collection of the New York Public Library.

Spanish Version

From Archives (Third Sunday of Advent, Year A):

2013: Faith & Truth
2010: From Despair to Hope
2007: Do Not Complain
2004: The Messenger
2001: Waiting in Joyful Hope
1998: Do Not Grumble, My Brothers

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies

Podcasts of homilies (website of my niece, Sara)

Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.

Bulletin (Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Visit of Archbishop Brunett, Foor & Christmas Gifts for Poor)


From Samuel J. Gerdano, Executive Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute: Diocesan Bankruptcies: A Feast for Lawyers

From Amy: "How does she reckon with a man who fought for labor laws and condemned birth control?...Jacoby's own orthodoxy, the orthodoxy of atheism, renders her as incapable as any other absolutist of appreciating the complex interplay of religious faith and political thought."

Our Lady of Guadalupe's Tug on Modernity

Catholics and the Salvation Army

Independent Women's Forum reviews Kinsey (warning: contains graphic descriptions)

Lady in the Pew

Pope Praises US Bishops for Handling of Scandal

The Mother of the Son: The Case for Marian Devotion by Mark Shea

Leading Atheist Philosopher Concludes God's Real

Catholic Answers explains Changes in Mass

Quilts for Orphans Girls

made with love by beautiful people in Whatcom County

Faith Chart (a durable Christmas gift for a young adult)

Parish Picture Album

(November 2010)

Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)

Parish Picture Album

MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

KRA's & SMART Goals (updated November 2013)