From Despair to Joy

(Homily for Third Sunday of Advent - Cycle A)

Bottom line: God continues to use Our Lady of Guadalupe to bring people from despair to joy.

About sixteen years ago a priest received a very unusual request: A young woman asked him if he would help her get rid of her unborn child. The priest was obviously surprised, but he tried not to react negatively. "Why do you want to end your pregancy?" he asked. She replied that when she told her boyfriend, he said he was going to leave her. She loved him and desperately wanted him back.

The priest resisted the temptation to say, "your boyfriend is a rat." Instead he asked her to do three things: First, to allow the priest to pray with her and bless the baby. Second, to see a medical professional that he knew. And, third, to watch a short video. The video showed the development of the human embryo.

After she left, the priest thought about the young woman and wondered what she would do. In his room he had a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He noticed the black ribbon below her folded hands and he remembered that the ribbon signified pregnancy. The child within her, of course, is Jesus. The priest asked Our Lady to help that young woman.

A month or so passed. The priest heard a knock on his office door. When he opened the door, he saw a shy, smiling face. It was the young woman. she told the priest she had decided to keep her baby.

A year later he saw her again. She was holding a lovely baby girl. After some conversation, the priest asked her, "Would you give up your baby for anything?"

"No," she said, "she is my treasure." The girl is now a teenager. She lives with her mom and grandmother. In their home they have a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that the priest gave to mom.*

By a nice coincidence, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls on the Third Sunday of Advent. The readings show God transforming despair into joy. He did it when he "ransomed" the Israelites and crowned them with everlasting joy. He did it for John as he sat in the darkness of Herod's prison. He did it for the Aztec people when he sent them a beautiful lady. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought them immense consolation and hope.**

In his installation homily, Archbishop Sartain spoke about how God can take us from despair to joy, from bondage to freedom. He quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer - the German pastor imprisoned by the Nazis. Bonhoeffer said: "A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."

In these final weeks of Advent we wait upon the Lord. He alone can open the door of freedom. He alone can lift us from sadness to light. And as we see today: God continues to use Our Lady of Guadalupe to bring people from despair to joy. Amen.


*A true story. The priest is me. I wrote it in the third person, not to imitate Julius Caesar, but for other homilists who might want to use it as an illustration.

**God continues to use our Lady of Guadalupe to bring joy out despair. Fr. Frank Pavone commented:

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the unborn. Her image shows her as pregnant, carrying God himself. That image converted millions of Aztecs. Today, this image is taken to abortion clinics, where human sacrifice is practiced, and turns the despair of those mothers and fathers into the hope that brings new life.
(from Pro-life Reflections for Every Day)

Spanish Version

From Archives (Third Sunday of Advent, Year A):

2013: Faith & Truth
2010: From Despair to Hope
2007: Do Not Complain
2004: The Messenger
2001: Waiting in Joyful Hope
1998: Do Not Grumble, My Brothers

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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