THE TENDER FACE OF OUR MOTHER
By Most Rev. JOSÉ H. GOMEZ, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Editor’s note: On Dec. 12, Archbishop Gomez began a new tradition at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — celebrating midnight Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, following the traditional celebration of las mañanitas, an evening of song and dance in honor of the Virgin. The following is adapted from the Archbishop’s homily, which was delivered in Spanish.
For the first time, tonight we celebrate this glorious feast in the presence of the precious relic of the holy tilma that bears Our Lady’s miraculous image! This is the only relic of this kind in our country or anywhere else outside of Mexico City.
With this relic in our new Chapel to the Virgin, we feel a deep spiritual connection tonight with our brothers and sisters in Mexico — and with Guadalupanos of every continent!
We belong to one family of God! Our brothers and sisters are scattered through every nation. Mary is the Mother of all of us! We turn to her tonight as Mother and Star of the Evangelization of America. We thank her for bringing Jesus to our countries and the gift of faith.
We turn to the Virgin tonight also in a very personal way — as our mother.
The miraculous tilma of St. Juan Diego gives us the only true “portrait” of our Mother Mary that has ever been “made.” It was a portrait “painted” from roses by the hand of God! That is why this beautiful relic we have is so precious! What a beautiful gift our Father has given us — to allow us to see the face of our tender Mother, who is the Mother of God!
We need to turn to this image of our Mother all the time. We need to gaze on her sweet face and look into her peaceful eyes. We need to talk to her as little children and tell her everything that is in our heart. We need to feel her maternal tenderness toward us.
Tonight we remember her apparition at Tepeyac. We remember the words of hope she spoke to St. Juan Diego: “Am I not here, I who have the honor to be your Mother? Are you not in my shadow and under my protection? … Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more?”
This great feast reminds us: We are surrounded everywhere by the love of God! We have Jesus Christ, our brother, who walks with us every day and gives himself to us — Body and Blood — in the holy Eucharist. We have the angels and the saints watching over us! And we have our tender Mother, the Virgin Mary!
In her deepest heart, Mary is a mother who loves us. She asks nothing for herself. All for Jesus! All to be our mother!
Through Mary who brings us Jesus — a new world opens up for us. We can live like a new creation. We can hope for great things for ourselves and for our families and children. We are children of God now! We can turn to God and call him, “Abba! Father.”
We have all this through Jesus — and through the gift of the Virgin Mary who lives to bring us Jesus.
We all know the story of the Visitation (Luke 1:39-48). Mary has just learned that Jesus is in her womb. And in haste she runs to bring Jesus to her cousin, St. Elizabeth.
In this story we see the “missionary” and motherly heart of the Blessed Virgin. We see that Mary is filled with so much joy, such a desire to share Jesus!
And when Mary tells her about Jesus, St. Elizabeth is also filled with joy! She is rejoicing because she realizes that she is a child of God. She realizes that Mary is the Mother of the Lord! And she cries out: Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!
We say these exact same words every day when we pray the “Hail Mary.” And we should always pray the “Hail Mary” in the same spirit as St. Elizabeth — rejoicing that we are children of God!
So tonight, we fly to Mary our Mother. We ask her to teach us how to be good mothers and good fathers to our children. We ask her to teach us how to be good sons and daughters.
We want to be people who love God! A people who love our children and our families! We want to be people who live like Jesus and Mary and St. Joseph!
So we ask the Virgin to help us to always be like her. To live with Jesus in our hearts! To live to share Jesus with every one we meet and in everything we do.
Let us turn to our Mother’s sweet face! Let us stay close to our Mother! Let us allow her to be our life, our sweetness and our hope!
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