Bottom line: Blessed Luis Magaņa illustrates three lessons for the New Year.
Happy New Year! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Other themes come together today: the circumcision and naming of Jesus that took place on the eighth day after his birth. World Day of Prayer for Peace - our Holy Father asks us to pray especially for peace in the Holy Land. And for us as a parish, we begin a nine day novena in honor of Randy Terlicker - a Holy Family Graduate who gave his life heroically and has great importance for the future of our parish and school. And not least, today is Fr. Armando Red's birthday!
For my New Years Day homily I would like take three lessons, drawn from the life of a Mexican martyr - Blessed Luis Magaņa. I just returned from Mexico where I celebrated the wedding of Deacon Abel's daughter - Leticia Magaņa, a niece (a few times removed) of Blessed Luis Magaņa. She and Michael Yellam married in the same church were Blessed Luis married Elvira Camarena eighty-three years ago. The same church in front of which Blessed Luis was martyred. I could say a lot about him, but I want draw three lessons as we begin this new year.
The first lesson regards our relationship as men and women. Pornography has greatly distorted that relationship. Pornography has always existed, but in the last few decades it has become a tidal wave - and it affects us all. Instead of looking at each other as brother and sister, we tend to objectify the other person. Blessed Luis illustrates the priority of the brother-sister relationship, even -and especially - as a basis for marriage. Luis and his future wife, Elvira Camarena grew up a block from each other. For many years they looked upon each other and treated each other as brother and sister. When they did fall in love and get married, those years gave them a solid basis for a good marriage. So the first lesson is that we men and women learn to treat each other as brother and sister.
The second lesson is something we have spoken about a lot, but cannot overemphasize: the Stewardship of God's gifts. When they married on January 6, 1926, Luis and Elvira began working together in their leather tanning business - making belts, purses, shoes, jackets and other leather goods. The business involved not only production, but marketing. Luis would travel to nearby towns to sell the leather goods. Those who gave testimony in the beatification process were unanimous that he always maintained the highest standards: fairness to his clients, generosity to the poor, never overindulging in alcohol or cigarettes and always keeping Elvira in his mind. When he returned from each trip, he would bring a present for her. Elvira and Luis give a beautiful example of Stewardship.
Thirdly and most important, they teach us to put God in first place. If we get our relationship to God correct, all other relationships fall into proper order. I remember a girl in her thirties who was making a novena to St. Anthony, asking his help to find a good man. I asked her what she was looking for in a future husband. "Father," she said, "I don't care if he is handsome or ugly, fat or skinny, rich or poor. I want a man who will love God more than he loves me." A few months later I saw her in church with a young man. You wouldn't call him handsome and not at all rich - but he had a deep faith in God.
That is what Blessed Luis teaches us - putting God in first place. We see that most clearly in what happened on February 9, 1928. When he returned from a business trip, he was surprised find his parents waiting for him. They told him that his brother Delfino had been arrested in place of him. Luis said he would go to talk to the General. But before he left, he bathed, shaved and put on his best suit. He had worn the suit only one other time - at his wedding. After having a meal together, Luis knelt in front of his parents and received their blessing. Then Luis blessed his little son, Gilberto, and embraced Elvira, who was four months pregnant.
Walking down the hill toward the garrison, a woman called to Luis, "Don't go. They will kill you." He replied, "How cheaply we can purchase heaven today! In one hour I will stand before God." He approached General Martinez, asking him to release Delfino. The General did, then had Luis taken to the main square in front of the parish church. A crowd gathered and the General asked Luis if he wanted a blindfold. Luis, said, "no," but added these words:
"I have never been an armed rebel, but if you accuse me of being a Christian, yes, that I am." Then he spoke to the soldiers, "My brother, from this moment I forgive you. When I come before God, I will pray first for you." The soldiers then lifted their rifles. As they aimed, Luis shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King! Viva Santa Maria de Guadalupe! Long live Holy Mary, our Lady of Guadalupe."
Thus Luis gave his testimony to Christ. You might be curious about what happened to his wife Elvira and their two children, Gilberto and Maria Luisa. I found out some very interesting about them when I was in Arandas, but you will have to wait until this Sunday. Please come back then. Meanwhile I would like to sum up the three lessons Blessed Luis Magaņa gives us:
First, that men and women look at each other as brother and sister. Second, good Stewardship of the gifts God has given us. And most important, put God first and all other relationships will fall into their proper place. Long live Christ the King! Long live Holy Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe!
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin: Wedding in Arandas
(Plus pictures of Blessed Luis' Granddaughters)
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Proclamation of the Date of Easter 2009 (for Epiphany Sunday, January 4)