December 9, 2022


Let’s ask Blessed Mother to help us prepare for her Son’s coming again

The Blessed Virgin Mary plays a significant role in the Advent Scripture readings.

Mary is introduced to us in the New Testament as a strong woman of faith who remains true to her word in spite of great sorrow. She always points the way to her Son, Jesus, the Word Incarnate, who we believe will come again—in the great feast of Christmas and at the end of time.

On Dec. 8, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We Catholics believe that Mary was born free from original sin. Unlike the rest of us, Mary was pure and sinless. She was not dragged down morally or spiritually by the tendency to make choices that were hurtful to herself or others.

As a result, Mary was free to say “yes” to God’s invitation to become the Mother of God Incarnate. Mary’s positive assent to God’s will is the model for all of us. With the help of God’s grace, we can follow her example and become holy women and men who seek only to do the will of God our Father.

Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Mary is the patroness of the United States. Especially today, we need to implore her intercession to heal the wounds of division and the deep-seated fear and distress experienced by so many of our fellow citizens. Mary’s compassion, her care for the poor and vulnerable and her unique position as solace of migrants and refugees make her an advocate that we sorely need in these troubled times.

Today—Dec. 9—the Church invites us to honor St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native Mexican who on this day 491 years ago was privileged to encounter Mary, the mother of God, speaking his language and clothed in the dress of his own people.

St. Juan Diego was a simple, God-fearing man. In spite of his astonishment at the appearance of the mysterious beautiful lady, he did what she asked and presented to the local bishop her request that a chapel be built on Tepeyac Hill just outside of Mexico City. The bishop didn’t believe his story and requested a sign as proof. Mary provided Juan Diego with several miraculous signs—including her image embedded in his tilma (cloak) and an abundance of out-of-season roses.

We will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in three days, on Dec.12, and because Mary is the patroness of all the Americas, we will be joined by our sisters and brothers throughout North, Central and South America in praising God for the gift of this amazing woman, the mother of God and our mother.

When Pope St. John Paul II visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, he expressed the profound hope that the diverse peoples and cultures of the Americas could find unity, solidarity and a shared peace through our Blessed Mother’s intercession.

Mary’s words to Juan Diego ring out more than ever today: “Do not be afraid. Am I not here with you, your mother?” Mary’s presence casts out fear because she gives powerful witness to the saving grace of her Son, Jesus. She comforts and encourages us by reminding us of her words at the wedding banquet in Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). If we can do this, all will be well.

Tomorrow—Dec. 10—the Church provides us with the memorial of Our Lady of Loreto. This particular title of Mary refers to the house in which she was born and raised, and in which the angel Gabriel visited her in the Annunciation. Tradition holds that angels miraculously transported the house from Palestine to Loreto, Italy, in the 13th century. However, it is now generally believed that this legend came from the fact that a patron family with the name “Angelo” either had the house moved or had stones for a replica home imported from the Holy Land.

No matter which of her many titles is used, Mary is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and that his name will be Emmanuel, which means “God is with us” (Mt 1:23). Mary is also a pre-eminent figure in the New Testament as the first Christian disciple and the model for the Church formed by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

This Advent, let’s ask the Mother of God to help us prepare for her Son’s coming again. And let’s follow her example, saying “yes” to God’s Word.

—Daniel Conway

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