Thursday December 12, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Our Lady of Guadalupe
Reading (Zechariah 2:14-17) Gospel (St. Luke 1:39-47)
As we celebrate today this wonderful feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we recognize the fulfillment of what is written in the Book of Genesis, as well as in the Book of Revelation: the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She is indeed the woman who crushes the head of the serpent. She is the one who is sent by God to be able to bring people to Himself. She is the Morning Star; she is the one who comes prior to the coming of her Son to prepare the people of God for Him. And she is the one spoken of in Zechariah. As we heard in that first reading, we will know that the Lord is among us and we will know that it is the Lord of Hosts who has sent her. Indeed, we do.
When we look at what happened with Our Lady of Guadalupe, we know the story well: how it is through this particular image that more than 9 million people were converted to Catholicism; that 9 million people (most of whom prior to that) were involved in human sacrifice and worshiping Satan, and all of a sudden because of the appearance of the Mother of God and this extraordinary image that we have – Our Lady of Guadalupe – 9 million people became Catholic. So we see in this the way that God is going to work, how He has worked throughout Christian history. That is, He has sent His mother over and over again to call His people to Himself. He has sent His mother to them to be able to prepare a people for Himself. And it is no different in our day: He is sending His mother to bring us to Himself and to prepare us.
It is the task of a mother, in part, to form her children, and Our Lady is the best of mothers. She is forming her children, and there is only one way she is going to form her children, and that is to form us into the image of the Child she formed, not only in her womb, but Whom she taught on her knee. And so she is forming us into Jesus Christ. That is Our Lady’s task: it is to form children for God and to make us into Christ. Now each one of us then needs to say with Elizabeth, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” It has nothing to do so much with who we are – because we know our own unworthiness, we know that we do not deserve such an incredible privilege – but it is purely a gift from God. And so the choice lies with us. Are we going to accept it or are we going to reject it?
Again, just think what happened back in 1530. Our Lady appeared to people who were worshiping Satan and offering human sacrifice by the thousands and tens of thousands. When they consecrated their new pyramid down in what is now Mexico City, they sacrificed 80,000 people in three days as the opening ceremony to dedicate this shrine to Satan – 80,000 people, just as the dedication! And these are the people she appeared to and converted. So too, now in our day she is appearing to us. We have not offered human sacrifice the way that they did. Of course, in America we are offering human sacrifice by the thousands as well in another form. She is appearing and calling us to conversion just as she did the people of Mexico, and the people of the Americas in general, over 450 years ago.
But she calls to each one of us individually also as her children – so as a people in general, but as individuals. And we have the choice. We can reject her because we do not think ourselves to be worthy or we can accept the gift that God is sending. We can be like Elizabeth and we can humbly accept what God has sent. We can certainly cry out with joy and almost incredulity, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” but then we need to say, “Since God in His mercy has sent His mother to me, I need to respond positively. I need to change my life. I need to receive this beautiful gift that God has sent and I need now to allow her to form me.” We need to respond the way Saint John the Baptist did. When we hear her voice, we need to leap with joy because our salvation has come, the Morning Star has risen, the darkness is ended because the dawn is beginning to rise and the Mother with the Son in her womb has come to visit us to bring salvation to our house, to our souls.
Now the only choice is how we are going to respond. God has made the first move. He has sent His mother and she has come to each one of us. How are we going to respond? Are we going to reject the gift and the invitation of God offered through His mother? Or are we going to be humble to accept it even though we are thoroughly unworthy and humble ourselves to rejoice in the gift that God is offering of the salvation of our souls and be able to respond positively, joyfully, to change our lives to become more like Jesus and to bring that news of salvation to other souls? That is the privilege that God is offering to each of us. The choice is ours. God has already made His choice and His choice includes each one of us. Now the choice is ours. Do we want to be included in His choice? Do we want to accept His invitation? Do we want to respond and to humble ourselves and allow Our Lady to form us into the image of her Son?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.