God Calls YOU to be a Saint!
Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent 12/11/22
We are truly blessed this Advent season to have the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent fall between two amazing celebrations in the liturgical Calendar. The Church celebrated this last week on December 9th, the memorial of St. Juan Diego, who received the apparition of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Church celebrates her feast tomorrow. During the Advent season, many of our readings focus on the person and teachings of John the Baptist—the one who prepares the way of the Lord. These Advent readings serve to reorient us to the call of the first mission of the Church, the proclamation of the Gospel.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles reminds us that St. Juan Diego’s story is that mission lived to its fullest:
The first reading at mass today from the book of the prophet Isaiah today echoes the apparition of Our Lady to Juan.
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
Was this not the sign on the hill at Tepeyac given to St. Juan Diego?
Francis Johnston describes the scene, “Juan climbed up the hill with alacrity, and on reaching the crest was amazed to find a brilliant profusion of flowers, including Castilian roses, blooming in the frozen soil. Not only were they in bloom completely out of season, but it would have been quite impossible for any flowers to grow in a terrain so stony that it could only yield thistles, cactus and mesquite bushes.”
Our life in this fallen world can be like the barrenness of the desert Juan walked daily. A barrenness caused by the lack of love of God and our fellow man. But like the Castilian roses, our Lord continues to give us graces on our journey toward the Kingdom of God.
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Folks sometimes get upset with the insinuation that John the Baptist may have doubted that Jesus was the messiah—Was John not given a revelation when Jesus came to be baptized!? In fact, the Church Fathers tend to try to explain away the passage, some claiming it was John asking on behalf of his doubting disciples, among other reasons. But, Let us have reassurance. We have the revelation of the good news proclaimed to us, my faithful Catholics. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, has paid our ransom by dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and raises us to eternal life in His resurrection—this is our great joy waiting for the coming of the Lord this Gaudete Sunday.
There is more. Ask yourself, What is your role to play in Salvation History? Are you willing to share your joy? Are you willing to be challenged, called a liar, and perhaps even imprisoned like John?
Does the voice in your head say, “I am not a great Saint like John the Baptist?
St. Juan Diego, a poor lay peasant, was given the great grace of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our Blessed Mother. The greatest of all creatures, Mary, chose Juan, not Bishop Zumarraga—not any of the clergy—to be the instrument for one of the largest conversions in the history of the Catholic Church.
St. John the Baptist was the messenger sent to prepare the way for the Lord. But St. Juan Diego was called in a like role to prepare the way for the Lord in Mexico. One of the great insights of the Vatican II council, perhaps inspired by St. Juan Diego, is the realization that the laity will drive the renewal of the modern age.
What does God ask of you?
The Vatican II document Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Apostolate of the Laity, explains that the Church has entrusted the laity with the Church’s first mission—the proclamation of the gospel, “the laity must be specially formed to engage in conversation with others, believers, or non-believers, in order to manifest Christ’s message to all men.”
By virtue of our baptism, we share in the offices of our Lord Jesus Christ: Priest, Prophet, and King. We have been anointed! We have been set apart for the gospel of God. And we have been tasked to proclaim to others our great joy—the good news of our Lord Jesus. As we move closer to the good news of Christmas, ask yourself, are you fulfilling the prophetic office?
St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (1:16 ESV).
Do not fear your call! It is the power of God for salvation.
May God give us this grace.
 Francis, Johnston, Wonder of Guadalupe (North Carolina: TAN Books, 1981) Kindle Edition.
 Catholic Church, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: Apostolicam Actuositatem,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011).