We do not know if St. Juan Diego was familiar with Psalm 126 prior to the day in 1531 he experienced his vision of the Blessed Mother on the hill at Tepeyac. But there is little doubt that, had he been in our parish assemblies on this Second Sunday of Advent, he would sing its refrain — our responsorial Psalm of the day — in full and glorious voice: “The Lord has done great things for us! We are filled with joy!”It would be a logical extension of Mary’s own words, proclaimed as per St. Luke’s Gospel on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.”The prophet Baruch, addressing the people of Jerusalem several centuries before the birth of Jesus, offers this Sunday a similar sentiment in stronger terms, more along the lines of a football coach whose team is trailing at the half.“Take off your robe of mourning and misery,” he declares. “For God will show your splendor to all under the heavens.” If we believe in what Jesus teaches, we know that while our best days are ahead, we also know that there will be challenges in our lives.The Second Sunday of Advent, in fact, is a series of pep talks, with St. Paul — an imprisoned St. Paul, no less — offering encouragement to the people of Philippi. “I am confident,” he says, “of this: that the One who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”Finally, we have St. John the Baptist reiterating the words of Baruch that the mountains will be leveled and valleys will be filled, because the day of the Lord is at hand. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God,” he promises those who hear his words in the desert.But no football coach, no matter how positive or encouraging, ever told his team, “All you have to do is show up.” Likewise, there are no promises from Baruch, Paul or John that the better days ahead will come with nary a bead of sweat on any brow, nor will pain and anguish be eliminated. Paul refers to “your partnership for the Gospel,” a phrase easily overlooked, but one that bears some reflection. In what way are we “partners” for the Gospel? How much of the Gospel do we take to heart? And is there anything in the Gospel that we need some help with, in order to fully serve our Lord Jesus and the people of God?If we believe in what Jesus teaches, we know that while our best days are ahead, we also know that there will be challenges in our lives — challenges much greater than a shifty tailback or blitzing linebacker who has had his way with our team in the first half.This may be a good time, then, to recall the words of the Letter to the Hebrews that are emblazoned on the Coat of Arms of Archbishop José Gomez: “Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae” — “Let us go forth with confidence to the throne of grace.”St. Juan Diego heard the message. Let us do the same.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus).