Given by the Most Reverend Stephen E. Blaire at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in STOCKton.
One of the great truths at the heart of our Faith is that God has loved us so much that He entered into our humanity in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. God belongs to all peoples, to all cultures because He is the creator of all. There are many religions in the world which acknowledge God as creator, but Jesus Christ alone is the Savior and Redeemer of all.
On the cross Jesus said to the disciple and to everyone who would be his follower: BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER. Mary is the mother of every Christian. Like Jesus, she belongs to every race and culture. That is why each race has an image of Mary which reflects the culture of the people. For the Mexican, and by extension to all the peoples of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe comes from the culture of the people. The image of Mary unfolded in the tilma of Saint Juan Diego 475 years ago is a gift from the Church for the peoples of the Americas. Mary is not to be seen as some kind of a goddess who reigns over and above the people, but is to be venerated as one who comes from the people and is for the people, especially for the poor. We are the disciples of Christ and Mary belongs to us a our mother.
The theme for this year’s celebration portrays Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the great evangelizer. Mary is the star of the first and new evangelization. She embodied in her life the two qualities of those sent by God to proclaim the gospel. First of all, she is a woman of faith. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.” She believed and the Word of God became flesh. In faith she pondered in her heart all the great things God has done for us. Secondly, she accepted the call of God to be the mother of Jesus, the mother of the messiah and later to be the mother of all the disciples. She was faithful to the end and remains faithful to all that God has asked of her.
The great religions of the world promote justice on the face of the earth. Jesus, the Son of God, is the Just One, come from God, who by His passion, death and resurrection has justified those who believe. To be just is to stand in a right relationship with God, with yourself, with your neighbor and with the earth. Mary is the mother of the Just One and of those who practice justice.
Devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates our humanity, our dignity as human beings, and demands the justice which honors the dignity and worth of every human person, with particular attention to those who are poor and suffering. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is often carried in procession as a demonstration of faith and symbol for justice as willed by God. The proclamation of the Gospel, the mission of evangelization, is a call for justice. To honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to stand right with God; to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is to respect the dignity and worth of every human being as made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ; to honor our Lady of Guadalupe is to care for the earth and its environment as given to us by God.
In faith we ponder in our hearts all the great things God has done for us, all the great gifts God has given us, especially the treasure of Mary, whom we honor today under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. VIVA LA VIRGEN DE GAUDALUPE!