I hope many of you will be able to join me this Sunday for the “Guadalupe Celebration” being held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event is being co-sponsored by the Archdiocese and the Knights of Columbus. It will feature speeches and performances; the Rosary; and a procession with veneration of a relic from the miraculous tilma imprinted with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For me, this celebration will be a good chance to thank God for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s maternal love — not only in my life but also in the destinies of the peoples of the Americas. When Mary appeared on the hillside in Tepeyac, outside Mexico City, on that December morning in 1531, it was less than a generation after Christopher Columbus and his voyages of discovery. It was a Saturday morning, not yet dawn, and St. Juan Diego was heading off to his weekly catechism class, which was taught by his local priest. It was December 9, the day when the Church used to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. As he made his way over the hill, St. Juan Diego heard a sound like the singing of birds. And then he saw her. The beautiful Virgin, with the face of a meztiza, a mix of Spanish and Native features. She told him she wanted him to build a church, a sacred place where she could reveal her Son to the people of the New World. She said: I want very much that they build my sacred little house here — in which I will show him [Jesus]. I will exalt him upon making him manifest. I will give him to all people in all my personal love.

As Mary told Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe did not come only to convert Mexico, or only the people of the New World. She came to give Jesus to all people in her personal love.

Our Lady of Guadalupe came to build a church. But not only a building. She came to build the Church, the family of God in America. And within several decades of that December day in Tepeyac, all of Latin America had become devoutly Catholic! Our Catholic faith spread to millions in North America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines and from there even farther. In God’s plan of salvation, Mexico became the cradle of Christianity in the New World. But, as Mary told Juan Diego, she did not come only to convert Mexico, or only the people of the New World. She came to give Jesus to all people in her personal love. The mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mission of Tepeyac, continues in our day. As Pope Benedict XVI said during his visit to Mexico earlier this year, Our Lady of Guadalupe is “the Star of both the original and the new evangelization … the continental mission which is now taking place across these noble lands” of the Americas. The mission of Tepeyac continues in each one of us! Our Lady of Guadalupe is calling each of us to build her Church, just as she called St. Juan Diego. This is what the new evangelization is all about. It is a new continental mission — to bring Jesus to all the nations and peoples of the Americas. The mission to make this a new world of faith, a new world filled with the light of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. We live in a world where love for God is growing cold in many hearts. So many people have just forgotten about God. So many people are living as if he doesn’t matter. Our world needs new witnesses! And we are the ones who are called to carry the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe to our world today. We are called to find a new place for Jesus Christ in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. Evangelization is always the work of God! Our duty is to try to do God’s will in our lives. Our duty is to allow ourselves to be his instruments, to allow him to use us to carry out his loving plans. That’s one of the lessons of the first evangelization. Through the grace of God and the faith of one humble, ordinary man, St. Juan Diego — who heard the voice of the Virgin and made himself an instrument of God — the New World came to know Christ. So let’s pray for one another this week. Let’s ask Our Lady of Guadalupe to move our hearts to a new conversion. To a new commitment to our responsibility for the continental mission of his Catholic Church. And may Holy Mary of Guadalupe, through her maternal inspiration and intercession, obtain for us the graces we need to help us all to be better instruments of the love of God. So that everyone in our world may come to know him and to love him. Follow Archbishop Gomez at: www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.

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