.- Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez celebrated a procession and Mass for nearly 25,000 devotees of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 4, urging them to follow the Virgin Mary's example by grounding their lives in God.
“We need to promise that we will always nourish our roots – through our prayers and devotions, through all our efforts to lead a good life and to help others and make our neighborhoods and communities strong, through our love for our family and our love for our Church,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily at East Los Angeles College Stadium.
He told the crowd, which had traveled in procession along Cesar Chavez Avenue to the stadium, that the miraculous image of the Virgin was part of God's plan for North America and the world.
“God has a plan of love for the world, and God has a plan of love for each one of our lives,” he said. “That is why Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary 2,000 years ago. And that is why he sent his mother to the Hill of Tepeyac in December 1531.”
He offered the life of St. Juan Diego, the indigenous Mexican farmer who encountered Mary and received her miraculous image, as an example for holiness today.
“He was just an ordinary, humble man carrying out his daily duties,” the archbishop said of the saint. “He was not powerful or influential in the world.”
“Yet God had some great plans for his life that he did not know about. And St. Juan Diego became the first great evangelist in the New World.”
The Mexican-born archbishop spoke of the Virgin Mary's role in his own life, during his early years.
“I remember every summer we would make a 600-mile trip from Monterrey to visit my grandparents in Mexico City,” he recalled. “And every time we went, we would all make a pilgrimage together as a family to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
He also mentioned his father's own pilgrimages to the local shrine in Monterrey.
“All the men would do that on the Virgin’s feast day. They would go company by company, factory by factory, and they would walk for miles to the shrine to show their love for Our Lady.”
Sunday's procession and Mass gave parish groups an opportunity to show devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe through traditional mariachi music, native dances, hymns, and poems in her honor. The archbishop encouraged them to show this same love for Christ and his mother in their everyday lives.
“God wants us to live our faith in natural ways, in our ordinary lives, beginning with the people who are closest to us,” he reflected.
“He wants us to share our faith heart to heart – with a sincere smile, a truthful conversation, really listening to somebody, offering words of encouragement, doing little things to make life better for the people around us.”
Archbishop Gomez suggested that these small efforts were part of God's plan, as much as any visible miracle.
“Through these little acts of love, we spread the love of God,” he said. “We share with others the truth that we know – that we are all children of our dear Mother Guadalupe who always cares for us.”
He urged the devotees of Our Lady of Guadalupe to preserve their traditions, while always opening their lives to God's grace.
“We need to always try to nourish and grow from our roots, through the grace that we receive in the sacraments of the Church. And we need to promise to always try to bear good fruits for Jesus in our lives.”
“This,” he declared, “is what it means to be Guadalupanos!”