December 12, 2018
“Your deed of hope will never be forgotten.”
Is Zec 2:14-17; Judith 13:18,19; Lk 1:39-47
Holofernes the general in command of Israel’s enemies didn’t have a chance against the beauty and courage of Judith. She was inspired by the LORD to gain access to his tent by fooling him into thinking that she had betrayed her people and was in awe of his might. This faithful daughter of Zion was not afraid of Holofernes, and her name is blessed even to this day! She tricked her egotistical enemy and flattered him into believing that she was no threat at all. Then she struck him and cut off his head. For this act of bravery she was praised by all the people who in their great astonishment bowed down and worshiped God, saying with one accord, “Blessed are you, our God, who today have brought to nought the enemies of your people.” Then Uzziah prayed a blessing we hear in our responsorial, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the chief of our enemies.” This womanly courage we recognize in the Lady who stands in the sun and on the moon with a serpent under her feet. Our Lady of Guadalupe reveals the triumph of the Mother of God over the indigenous gods of the American Natives. These no-gods-at-all are completely overwhelmed by the gracious might of God. Her deed of hope, in accepting the word of Gabriel about the conception of the one she was to name Jesus, brings to birth the hope of all peoples and every nation. The LORD God wants all his children to be born again and to live a new and abundant life. Zechariah commands silence for the LORD stirs forth from his holy dwelling and comes to dwell among us! Neither Elizabeth nor Mary can restrain their rejoicing at God’s faithfulness; both feel within them the leaping and the joy unrestrained. We join in proclaiming the greatness of the LORD!
The Advent Prophet Zechariah proclaims that the LORD of hosts has chosen Judah as his portion in the holy land. This choice has nothing to do with the greatness or faithfulness of his people. Indeed, some remain unfaithful and stubborn of heart even after years of exile. Still, the LORD is faithful. Still, He chooses as his city, Jerusalem. He stirs forth from his holy dwelling and comes to live among his people, Judah, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.” This is the same kind of favor the Virgin of Guadalupe has shown Juan Diego and his people. The Virgin Mother of God placed her image upon the mantle of a simple and humble Mexican Indian, and it is recorded that not long after this miracle some nine million Indians were baptized. At this time in history the church proclaims the good news of God’s preferential option for the poor, the Virgin of Guadalupe is bright with the witness that God’s love for and identification with the poor is not some new idea. Indeed it flows from the Gospel proclamation of the Beatitudes. Today we join with our brothers and sisters in Mexico and throughout the world who honor and love the Blessed Lady of Guadalupe. Whose light and love still capture the imagination of the humble and simple of the earth because she is the most simple and humble in her radiant beauty.
After the Annunciation the Blessed Virgin Mary couldn’t wait to visit with Elizabeth to share the good news of the child within her womb. When she entered Zechariah’s house to greet Elizabeth her joy was contagious. Even before she opened her mouth, Mary brought new delight to the child and his mother. The Holy Spirit stirred within Elizabeth; the John leapt within her womb, and she proclaimed her visitor “Blessed.” Just like Judith being called blessed centuries before. Mary is proclaimed, “blessed among women” because she was willing to say, “yes” to the LORD calling her to be the Mother of the Son of God. By the birth of her Son the head of the enemy is crushed and human history is radically changed for the good. We need not fear. Again, we have hope, the gift of our Advent season. We need to trust that the Lord’s word to us will be fulfilled. We are summoned by the miracle of Guadalupe to look beyond all that invites awe and wonder in this season of “holiday festivity” and behold the vision of glory to which we are called by our new birth in baptism. We are summoned to be holy as our Father is holy. Only when we recognize our true dignity will we join with Elizabeth, Juan Diego, and the Blessed Virgin Mary in proclaiming the greatness of the LORD. Only then will our hearts leap for joy and our spirits rejoice in God our savior.