Monday December 12, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Our Lady of Guadalupe
Reading (Revelation 12:1-6) Gospel (St. Luke 1:39-47)
In the first reading today, we hear about this woman who is seen in heaven, who is the Ark of the Covenant of God, the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars, and she is with child. It is the same woman of whom we hear in the Gospel reading, where Saint Elizabeth says to our Blessed Lady, Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Today, as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Queen of the Americas, we have to ask that same question.
We have Our Lady coming to us in a form that most closely resembles what we hear in the Book of Revelation. She is standing on the moon, she is blocking the sun, she is arrayed in the stars, and she is clearly in the picture with child. Unlike any other appearance of our Blessed Lady throughout history, she has left us in this case the most glorious sign of her presence, a picture from heaven itself, the only picture that we have of our Blessed Mother. Everything else is some artist’s rendition of a pretty woman that he finds and tries to paint to suggest that this looks like Our Lady, and none of them even comes close. In fact, most of them are pretty gross disappointments, if we really want to be honest. But this one is entirely different. The simplicity that is present within this picture, and yet at the same time, the utter majesty that is present there, it captures something of our Blessed Lady that is not able to be captured by a human artist. It demonstrates the utter beauty that is there in this incredible woman, a beauty that is not something beheld by the eye, but a beauty that can only be beheld by the heart.
Our Lady, then, has come to us and remains with us. She appeared in the spot that is the geographic center of the Americas, north and south, east and west. The spot where she appeared is exactly right in the center from North America to South America. She appeared in a place where people did not know God, where they were sacrificing human beings to the sun and to the moon and to demons. This is where Our Lady appeared to call people to herself and to her Son, to bring them to Jesus through her. In this miraculous image that we have of our Blessed Lady, we have right here in the Americas a piece of heaven. Unfortunately, she is almost unknown to many people. The shrine at Guadalupe is actually the largest Marian shrine in the world. There are more people who visit Guadalupe than any other Marian shrine. We all hear about Lourdes and Fatima, but very few people around here, for some odd reason, seem to know about Guadalupe. But this is where Our Lady has come to us, and this is where she remains with us in a very profound and special way.
She is called by the Church the Queen of the Americas. So in a very particular way, the Church gives her to us as our queen and as our mother. Because of the situation, coming to stop human sacrifice as she did with the Aztec Indians, now she is asked to intercede to stop abortion in America, to stop the slaughter of innocent human life, innocent human life that is being offered to demons. As she intervened to stop this five hundred years ago or so, so now she is being asked once again to do the same.
The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe is responsible for the single largest mass conversion in history. Over nine million people converted because of that picture. Because the Indians in Mexico at that time did not have writing, they drew in pictures; and so they told their stories in pictures. When they saw the picture of Our Lady, they recognized immediately all the symbolism that was there. They immediately rejected their false gods and their human sacrifice, and they turned to the one true living God.
That is what we need to pray to Our Lady to once again do in the Americas. As people are walking away from God and embracing all kinds of paganism, here we have the Queen of the Universe, the Mother of God, who has come to us to call us to her Son. If we will simply make her known and let people know about her, bring people to this miraculous image, she will then bring them to her Son. That is what we have to pray for, that people’s hearts will be touched and they will be converted. If this image is responsible for the conversion of millions and for the end to human slaughter then there is no reason why this cannot be the case again. She is our mother and she is our queen. She has come to call us to conversion of heart to her Son and to the end of human sacrifice. In America today, these are the two most important things: to get the hearts of people turned to Jesus Christ, and to stop the slaughter of innocent human life. We have the means at our disposal because the Mother of God has come to us. Now, just as they did in Mexico years ago–they brought this image out into the streets, they brought her to the towns and villages, and when they saw her they changed their hearts and they stopped the evil that they were doing–perhaps that is what we need to do once again, to bring this miraculous image of Our Lady out into the workplace, out into our homes, out into the neighborhoods. Perhaps when people see the mercy of God that has been extended, they too will have a change of heart and they too will cooperate in ending the slaughter of innocent human life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.