Daily Archives: December 11, 2016

12 December, Monday – Ignorance

Dec 12 – Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Guadalupe is, strictly speaking, the name of a picture, but the name was extended to the church containing the picture and to the town which grew up around the church. It makes the shrine, it occasions the devotion, it illustrates Our Lady. It is taken as representing the Immaculate Conception, being the lone figure of a woman with the sun, moon, and star accompaniments of the great apocalyptic sign with a supporting angel under the crescent. The word is Spanish Arabic, but in Mexico it may represent certain Aztec sounds.

Its tradition is long-standing and constant, and in sources both oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. The Blessed Virgin appeared on Saturday, 9 December 1531 to a 55-year-old neophyte named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac Hill to hear Mass in Mexico City. She sent him to Bishop Zumarraga to have a temple built where she stood. She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop’s answer.

The bishop did not immediately believe the messenger, had him cross-examined and watched, and he finally told him to ask the lady who said she was the mother of the true God for a sign. The neophyte agreed readily to ask for the sign desired, and the bishop released him.

Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle who was dying of fever. Indian medicine had failed and Bernardino seemed at death’s door. At daybreak on Tuesday 12 December 1531, Juan ran to nearby St. James’ convent to ask for a priest. To avoid the apparition and the untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said, “What road is this thou takest son?”

A tender dialogue ensued. She reassured Juan about his uncle, to whom she also briefly appeared and instantly cured. Calling herself “Holy Mary of Guadalupe”, she told Juan to return to the bishop. He asked for the sign he required. Mary told him to go to the rocks and gather roses. Juan knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma (a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians), he came back. The Holy Mother rearranged the roses, and told him to keep them untouched and unseen until he reached the bishop.

When Juan met with Zumarraga, Juan offered the sign to the bishop. As he unfolded his cloak, the roses, fresh and wet with dew, fell out. Juan was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him. The life-size figure of the Virgin Mary, just as Juan had described her, was glowing on the tilma. The picture was venerated, guarded in the bishop’s chapel, and soon after, carried in procession to the preliminary shrine.

Painters have not understood the laying on of the colours. They have deposed that the “canvas” was not only unfit but unprepared, and they have marvelled at the apparent oil, water, distemper, etc. colouring in the same figure. They are left in equal admiration for the flower-like tints and the abundant gold. They and other artists find the proportions perfect for a maiden of fifteen. The figure and the attitude are of one advancing. There is flight and rest in the eager supporting angel. The chief colours are deep gold in the rays and stars, blue green in the mantle, and rose in the flowered tunic.

The clergy, secular and regular, has been remarkably faithful to the devotion towards Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops fostering it, even to the extent of making a protestation of faith in the miracle a matter of occasional obligation. Pope Benedict XIV decreed that Our Lady of Guadalupe should be the national patron, and made 12 December a holiday of obligation with an octave, and ordered a special Mass and Office.

  • Patron Saint Index

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Numbers 24:2-7. 15-17

Raising his eyes Balaam saw Israel, encamped by tribes; the spirit of God came on him and he declaimed his poem. He said:
‘The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,
the oracle of the man with far-seeing eyes,
the oracle of one who hears the word of God.
He sees what Shaddai makes him see,
receives the divine answer, and his eyes are opened.
How fair are your tents, O Jacob!
How fair your dwellings, Israel!
Like valleys that stretch afar,
like gardens by the banks of a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
like cedars beside the waters!
A hero arises from their stock,
he reigns over countless peoples.
His king is greater than Agag,
his majesty is exalted.’

Then Balaam declaimed his poem again. He said:
‘The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,
the oracle of the man with far-seeing eyes,
the oracle of one who hears the word of God,
of one who knows the knowledge of the Most High.
He sees what Shaddai makes him see,
receives the divine answer, and his eyes are opened.
I see him – but not in the present,
I behold him – but not close at hand:
a star from Jacob takes the leadership,
a sceptre arises from Israel.
It crushes the brows of Moab,
the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.’

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Matthew 21:23-27

Jesus had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, ‘What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?’ ‘And I’ replied Jesus ‘will ask you a question, only one; if you tell me the answer to it, I will then tell you my authority for acting like this. John’s baptism: where did it come from: heaven or man?’ And they argued it out this way among themselves, ‘If we say from heaven, he will retort, “Then why did you refuse to believe him?”; but if we say from man, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.’ So their reply to Jesus was, ‘We do not know.’ And he retorted, ‘Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.’
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We do not know.

I organized a short division retreat recently and spoke to my team about the year gone by, as well as how each one should prepare for the year ahead. I also took pains to explain why the response ‘I do not know’ would not hold water for me any longer as I have staff who have been with me since 2012. My aim was to encourage sharing of knowledge and daily consultation among each team member, in order to promote team unity and to strengthen team spirit as well as to beef up the collective knowledge of the division.

In the case of the chief priests and elders, their claim to ignorance was a ‘false claim’. They knew full well what the answer should be but pled ignorance – how calculative they were; which therefore, explains the response they got from Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, we can never hope to pull the wool over the Lord’s eyes. He knows exactly what is in our hearts and whether or not we are genuinely pleased to see Him when he comes on Christmas morning. If you have been faithfully attending masses and going regularly for your Sacrament of Reconciliation, there should be no reason for you to claim ignorance with regards to how important it is for us to be making preparations during Advent.

However, when the Lord comes in all His glory, he appears to everyone. Especially so, to those who are sanguine about their faith. It is then that they have to search deep down in their hearts to acknowledge the presence of God in their lives. For when He does appear, you will know it only in your heart. And if you choose to plead ignorance or, like the chief priests and elders, try to dismiss the Lord, then perhaps the question to ask yourself is ‘Why don’t I know’?

Whatever the answer is, know that Jesus Christ is alive and that He walks among us. This Christmas, prepare for His coming into your life, by searching deep within yourself and, instead of questioning Christ, ask yourself how you can break free of the ignorance that clouds your mind and weighs upon your heart.

(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)

PrayerLord Jesus Christ, we pray that you enlighten those around us who doubt and question your existence. We ask you to shine the light of your love into their hearts.

ThanksgivingWe thank you Jesus, for always knocking at the door to our heart in spite of our sinfulness.