Preparation Time 3
Sunday Message Celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe
We are here to give thanks for our blessings and to open our hearts to the blessings we will receive in the year to come.
The wall of deportations is cracked and the sea of people is breaking through. Last week, we celebrated the first cases that we won from our defense committee, using the new “discretion defense”.
This morning, we remembered Congressman Gutierrez in our prayers because his father passed on yesterday. Yet we were with him on Friday, on his birthday, and we were celebrating. We were celebrating the father in South Carolina with two citizen children that the Familia Latina Unida leader Diana Salazar got released. We were celebrating the mother in Alabama who was released and her case closed, able to apply for a work permit, through the Congressman’s intervention.
You see, now we are winning case by case, punching holes in the wall of deportations – but the more people we bring through the wall, the more the policy changes, and soon thousands will come through. I want you to remember the last year. Because of your faith, we spent a year saying to President Obama “You have the DISCRETION.” He said “No, I don’t”, but you persisted, you marched, you went to jail and you stayed in prayer. The Congressman went across the country saying “You have the discretion” and when the children went to Washington D.C., even the Congressman went to jail. And the people shouted back at the President, “Yes you can!” You BELIEVED what God told you he would do and you were faithful.
The President changed his position. A new policy of discretion was established. Homeland Security promised to review 300,000 cases, but they moved too slowly and continued the deportations. So you organized defense committees and you put the pressure on. Just this week you joined with people around the nation in sending the letters from the children to the President.
Finally, Homeland Security started the review of cases this week in two cities, Baltimore and Denver. Our sources tell us that tomorrow letters will go out to over 15,000 people telling them their cases have been closed! That is just the beginning! That means they can stay here and that they are eligible to apply for work permits. We will keep the pressure on and we will fight for every parent and every young person caught up in the injustice of the broken law and we will keep our families together!
We had faith that if we persisted, even when so many told us nothing would come of our efforts, that we could break through the wall. We believed because it is part of God’s plan for a people to come here, work hard, struggle and have children, and change this nation. We believed the signs that God gave us, the vision that He put in our hearts.
That is a blessing we are receiving and will continue to receive this year if we serve the Lord. Still, we have much work to do, work we are given to do.
We are celebrating Blessings today.
There was a blessing on Juan Diego that we celebrate today. The Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to him in 1531, and millions now know his story. His uncle was healed so he could do as he was asked. He was given courage to confront his oppressors. He was filled with the power of the Kingdom, the miracle of the precious flowers – and his dignity was restored.
Juan Diego went to the Bishop who represented his conquerors, conquerors who had humiliated his people, who had destroyed their temples, who had put thousands into slavery, who had raped and murdered. Because the Virgin appeared to him, he had the courage to confront those in power and demand that they recognize that the Virgin Mary, whom his conquerors recognized as the mother of God, had appeared to him, Juan Diego, a poor peasant. She had called him “My dignified son.”
And for centuries she has appeared and been present to a people when they were in trouble, sick or in danger, when they were in need of courage or in need of hope.
We are celebrating Blessings today. Today we read about Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear”. And then she said, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”
Then we heard Mary’s song: “I will be called blessed for generations.” And didn’t that come to be?
Mary said this is what he has done for me: he has blessed me to give birth to a son who would restore the faith of a people. There would be much suffering in her life, and her son would also suffer crucifixion. But she was blessed with a purpose and with the courage to struggle.
Mary had come to know, and be certain, of what God is like. She had come to know God. “My Lord has brought down rulers but has lifted up the humble,” He has “filled up the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty,” He has helped his people who serve him. Mary KNEW her God!
We make our way through life thinking about own life, our own problems, our own possibilities – but life also brings us through a process of knowledge.
We are blessed with friendship, with love, with marriage and with children – and we are blessed with churches that hand to us the Word of God, the story of Jesus, the prophecy that God saves his people.
Solidarity is born in our hearts. Solidarity with the ones we love, with those with whom we share a common struggle, even if we don’t know them, is born in our hearts
Young people grow up in this process, trying to understand the purpose of their lives. It is not an easy process in the midst of all this confusion and that is why we are called to give them a good foundation in the faith – so they will recognize the signs that God gives them in time.
In time, we come to realize that our lives are part of the history of a people that have a purpose in God’s plan. Then we witness God working in our lives and we learn how to pray, we learn how to know God. This is the Way God brings us home to him, the way he gives us courage and the vision of what we can be. Can’t you feel God working right now, bringing you home?
Today we will bring forward some of our young people for baptism, first communion and confirmation. These steps represent steps in their lives as they grow up. They also represent our responsibility as a people, as a community of faith, as a family of families, to raise up our children in the ways of the Lord.
Why? So they too will come to know the Lord, know that they are part of a people in common struggle, who the Lord is with.
Life is difficult. Some don’t have papers, some have family members without papers. Some young people already have the mark of criminal put on them by the police. It is a struggle to find work that pays enough to live. And there is so much confusion around us that sometimes we get lost, sometimes we hurt the people we love and need the most.
God is with us in our struggle – that is what the last year showed us. That is why the wall of deportations is breaking and the sea of our families is coming through. In the coming year we will struggle to bring more and more people through the wall, keep more and more families together. And we will struggle to get them the health care, the jobs, the education for their children that they deserve. Still the most important question is not whether we will win this struggle; the question is what kind of people we will be when we win. Remember what Elizabeth said about Mary: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” We are called to be a people of faith and a faithful people.
We are blessed.
The Virgin of Guadalupe is with each of us today.
Look at the image of her face and you will feel it in your heart.
As she has given birth to a son who came to restore the faith of her people, so she comes to you to restore your faith, to give you courage, to reveal to you a future as a people in God’s plan, in the coming of his Kingdom on earth.
We remember Mary’s suffering but we also remember her victory!
The greatest blessing God gives us is not a life without difficulty,
but the courage and faith to overcome these difficulties!
Blessed are those who believe what God has told us He will accomplish! We believed last year – and God delivered.
Prepare yourself for the blessings of the year to come!
The Readings for the Third Sunday in Preparation Time
“ALL THE DIFFERENT PRECIOUS FLOWERS” From the Nican Mopohua
And today, while it was still night, she ordered me to come again to see you; and I asked her for the proof so that I would be believed, as she had said that she would give it to me, and she kept her promise immediately. And she ordered me to the top of the little hill where I had seen her before, to cut different flowers up there; Castillian roses. And when I had cut them, I took them down to her at the bottom; and she took them with her holy hands, gain she placed them in the hollow of my ayate, so that I would bring them to you, so I would give them only to you. Although I knew very well that the top of the hill isn’t a place where flowers grow, because there are only a lot of craggy rocks, thorns, spiny acacias, prickly pears, mesquite bushes. I didn’t doubt because of that, I didn’t hesitate because of that. When I reached the top of the hill I saw that it was now paradise. Every kind of different precious flowers were there, each one perfect, the very finest that there are, full of dew and shining so I immediately cut them; and she told me that I should give them to you from her, and that in this way I would show the truth; that your should see the sign that you were asking for in order to carry our her beloved will, and so that it will be clear that my word, my message, is truth, here they are; please receive them.”
And then he held out his white tilma, in the hollow of which he had placed the flowers. And just as all the different precious flowers fell to the floor,then and there the beloved Image of the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of God, became the sign, suddenly appeared in the form and figure in which it is now, where it is preserved in her beloved little house, in her sacred little house at Tepeyac, which is called Guadalupe. And as soon as the Governing Bishop and all those who were there saw it, they knelt, they were full of awe and reverence. They stood up to see it, they became sad, they wept, their hearts and minds were in ecstasy. And the Governing Bishop weeping and with sadness begged and asked her to forgive him for not having immediately carried out her will, her holy breath, her holy word. .
Luke 1: 39-45 Mary Visits Elizabeth
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Luke 1: 46-55 Mary’s Song
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”