Pope Francis celebrated Mass to mark the feast day

Called to be brothers and sisters in a time of war, injustice and poverty

 Called to be brothers and sisters  in a time of war, injustice and poverty   ING-050
16 December 2022

On Monday, 12 December, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the liturgical feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In a time “filled with the rumbling of war, growing injustice, famine, poverty and suffering”, the Holy Father said in his homily, the Lord continues to give us his Son, through the Virgin Mother. The following is a translation of the his words which he shared in Spanish.

Our God guides human history in every moment. Nothing is beyond his power, which is tenderness and providential love. He makes himself present through a gesture, an event, or a person. He never stops watching over our world — needy, wounded and anxious — to assist it with his compassion and mercy. His way of intervening, his way of manifesting himself, always surprises us and fills us with joy. He arouses wonder and he does it in his own style.

The reading from the letter to the Galatians gives us a precise indication that helps us gratefully contemplate the path to redeem ourselves and to make us his adopted children: “when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4:4).

And so it is, the coming of his Son in human flesh is the supreme expression of his divine method for salvation. God, who so loved the world, sent us his Son, “born of a woman,” so that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Thus, in Jesus, born of Mary, he becomes forever and irreversibly “God-with-us”, and walks beside us as our brother and companion. He came to stay. Nothing that is ours is foreign to him because he is “one of us”, close, a friend, the same as us in everything but sin.

And something similar, of this kind, happened five centuries ago during that complex and difficult time for the inhabitants of the new world: the Lord wanted to transform the upheaval brought about by the encounter between two different worlds, to transform it into the recovery of meaning, the recovery of dignity, into openness to the Gospel, to transform it into encounter. And he did so by sending Saint Mary, his Mother, in the logic of which today’s Gospel reminds us: after the angel’s tidings, “Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah” (Lk 1:39). Our Lady was in haste. Thus, Our Lady of Guadalupe came to the lands of America, presenting herself as the “Mother of the true God for whom we live” (cf. Nican Mopohua). And she came to console and attend to the needs of the little ones, without excluding anyone, to embrace them as a caring mother with her presence, love and consolation. She is our Mother of mixed race.

This year we celebrate Guadalupe at a difficult time for humanity. It is a bitter time, filled with the rumbling of war, growing injustice, famine, poverty and suffering. There is hunger. And although this horizon seems bleak and disconcerting, with omens of even greater destruction and desolation, faith, love and divine condescension teach us and tell us that this too is a favourable time of salvation, in which the Lord, through the mixed race Virgin Mother, continues to give us his Son, who calls us to fraternity, to set aside selfishness, indifference and enmity, inviting us to shoulder one another “with haste”, to go out to meet our brothers and sisters who have been forgotten and discarded by our consumerist and indifferent societies, our brothers and sisters who have been pushed aside. And she does so “with haste”: she is the Mother who is attentive, who is in haste, the solicitous Mother.

Today as yesterday, Saint Mary of Guadalupe wants to meet us as she one day met Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac. She wants to stay with us. She begs us to allow her to be our mother, to open our lives to her Son Jesus and to welcome his message so as to learn to love like him. She is in the midst of the caravans that travel towards the north in search of freedom and well-being. She is in the midst of the American people threatened in their identity by a wild and exploiting paganism, wounded by the active preaching of a practical and pragmatic atheism. She is there. “I am your Mother”, she tells us. The Mother of the love for whom one lives.

Today, December 12, marks the beginning of the Guadalupian Intercontinental Novena on the American continent, a journey that prepares for the celebration of the Fifth Centennial of the Guadalupian Apparition in 2031. I therefore urge all members of the pilgrim Church in America, pastors and faithful, to participate in this celebratory journey. But please do it with a Gaudalupian spirit. I am concerned about various ideological and cultural proposals that seek to appropriate themselves of the encounter of a people with their Mother, who want to remove her mixed-racedness, to “apply makeup” on the Mother. Please do not allow the message to be distilled in worldly and ideological models. The message is simple. It is tender: “Am I, your Mother, not here? And the Mother should not be ideologized.

May Jesus Christ, the one desired by all nations, grant us through the intercession of Our Mother of Guadalupe, days filled with joy and serenity, so that the peace of the Lord may dwell in our hearts and in the hearts of all men and women of good will.