12/17/2017 - "SO THEN FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD" ROMANS 10:17

"SO THEN FAITH COMES BY HEARING AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD" ROMANS 10:17

HOW THE PEOPLE OF MEXICO HEARD THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS In 1531, God our Father decided it was the moment of salvation for the people of Mexico. He wanted to reveal His Son to them. He wanted to comfort the people of Mexico through an encounter with the Good and Loving Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. And, He chose to send many John the Baptists to prepare the way for the coming and revelation of His Son.

On December 9th 1531, the Most Holy Trinity asked the Mother of Jesus to bear witness to the Good News of her Son to the people of Mexico. How fitting it is that the Trinity asked Mother Mary: she is the first and greatest disciple of Jesus. Her very flesh is a proclamation of the Good News that our Father loves us so much He wants to give us His Son! So, on December 9th 1531, Mother Mary appeared to Juan Diego.

Juan Diego was born and raised a pagan. He was an upright man. At a certain point, Franciscan missionaries established a mission near his village. Through the missionaries, Juan Diego HEARD the Good News of Jesus preached: that our Father loves Him so much that He wants to give him His Son. Juan Diego BELIEVED in the Good News; he REPENTED of all those ways of life that didn't correspond to the Gospel and he chose to FOLLOW JESUS!

When Mother Mary appeared to Juan Diego, she revealed the will of God that a Church be built in her honor at the place of the apparition. Juan Diego brought this heavenly message to the local bishop who decided he needed some time to weigh and discern this message. Upon a second visit from Juan Diego, the Bishop asked for a sign from heaven. On December 12, 1531, Mother Mary asked Juan Diego to climb the mountain and gather blooming flowers to bring to the Bishop. Juan Diego obeyed Mother Mary and climbed the mountain. To his surprise, he found many beautiful flowers in bloom. He gathered them in his tilma and took them to the Bishop. When he opened his tilma, the Bishop lost his breath in amazement. Our Father in heaven had impressed a most glorious image of Mother Mary on Juan Diego's tilma. This heavenly image of Mother Mary moved the Bishop to respond to the request of heaven and a Church was built. What happened next was the work of the living God: over the course of years, six million people HEARD the Good News of Jesus proclaimed; they BELIEVED the Good News, REPENTED, and chose to FOLLOW JESUS!

WHY ARE YOU CATHOLIC?

Many of us would respond to the question "why are you Catholic?" by saying something like: I was baptized Catholic. Or, my parents were Catholic. Or, I'm Polish and everyone in Poland is Catholic. This is a good initial answer but let us take a moment to realize that the answer to that question goes deeper. At some point, one of our ancestors, just like Juan Diego, HEARD the Good News for the first time; BELIEVED in it; REPENTED, and chose to FOLLOW JESUS. That is why you and I are Catholic! Let's go a step further. When you and I are asked that question, "why are you Catholic?" we ought to respond from a lived experience of faith: you know, I heard of the Father's love for me and I believed in it. I then turned my back, repented, of all those ways of life that don't correspond to the Gospel, and I've made the decision to follow Jesus.

THE LOVE OF CHRIST URGES US ON

One of the goals of our homily series is precisely to offer all of our parish family members the opportunity to experience a faith in Jesus that is alive and gives life. By a strong reliance on daily prayer and immersing our lives in Scripture, we open ourselves up to experiences where, on a daily basis, we hear God's voice and respond to it with belief. This experience begins to transform our lives as we grow and turn our backs to those ways of life that don't correspond to the Good News. We discover, on a daily basis, the invitation of Jesus to follow Him by how we are living out our lives. For all of us who have taken little or big steps to be committed to daily prayer and daily reading of Scripture, may our love for Jesus be set ablaze this Advent Season so that Jesus may find our hearts on fire with love for Him on Christmas day AND may the fire that burns within us set other people on fire with love for the adorable Son of God! As Mary and Elizabeth found strength in togetherness, may we nourish one another in love. Let's continue to pray for each other. Fr. Michael