Mary is alive! Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Today we are celebrating the memorial of St. Juan Diego, to whom our Lady appeared in 1531. Diego and his wife had been among the first to be baptized by the Franciscan missionaries in Mexico in 1524 when they were 50 years old. While on his way to morning mass one day, Juan Diego was visited by Mary.
Mary asked to have a shrine built there on Tepeyac Hill and promised to help the people. She specifically chose him to go to the bishop and ask that a shrine be built in her name. The bishop asked for a sign. So, Mary sent Juan Diego to gather flowers on Tepeyac Hill, which he would find in full bloom despite its being wintertime! When he opened his tilma before the bishop, there, impressed on his mantle, was a stunning life-size image of Our Lady.
Saint Juan Diego spent the rest of his life living near the shrine, praying, caring for visitors, and bringing people to the faith. Blessed Mother said she wanted this, “so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother …”
It is said that through him, 8 million Aztec Indians became Catholic. Juan Diego, who was the first canonized saint indigenous to the Americas, brought light to millions of people and continues to bring it even today.
Despite many such signs, we continue to live in darkness. Isaiah reminds Israel that God remains faithful amid their infidelity and that He will welcome back, protect, vindicate, and unbelievably bless them. In today’s gospel, the parable of the flute-playing children and the story of John the Baptist remind us that often we refuse tolisten to Christ’s words and his wondrous works.
This Advent invites us to follow the example of Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and the Saints.
Today, let us pray through the intercession of Saint Juan Diego that we may learn to listen, respond, and live our lives in the spirit of the gospel. Pray that we may grow in holiness by praying for one another, strengthening our marriages, nurturing faith in our children, and caring for those who are afflicted. Pray that Saint Juan Diego may show us the way that leads to the Virgin Mary. Pray that Virgin Mary may receive us in the depths of her heart and lead us to Jesus, her Son. Amen.
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About Father Pinto Paul, C.S.C.
Father Pinto Paul C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1999, worked with tribal populations in northeast India as a missionary for ten years. In 2010 he came to the US for further studies. While working as a campus minister at Stonehill College, he assisted pastors in local parishes, led seminars and workshops for teachers and students in the US and earned a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Boston College and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University, Cambridge. He is currently working as the International Director of the Boston-based Holy Cross Family Ministries with missions in 17 countries.