Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30
Optional Memorial of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (USA)
It is easier for us to trust in God in times when we feel that He is on our side. Though the world around us may appear to be in endless strife, the fact that we have been protected from harm helps us to feel certain of God’s guiding hand in our lives. But anyone who has suffered affliction or experienced personal tragedy knows just how distant God can seem in those times. As darkness presses on we call on the Lord for help; and when our suffering continues we fear that our prayers have been swallowed up into the dark abyss. Where is God? Why has He forsaken me? Dejected, we join Israel in crying out, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God.”
Today’s readings serve to remind us of God’s abiding presence in times of suffering and of the strength that He gives to overcome the darkness of our lives. Though we may seem to be on the cusp of destruction, He will never let us fall. For, “He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound.” Indeed, that grace which our God gives in these times is not just that which helps us to get by. Rather, His grace is transformative, so that through our hope in the Lord, we “will soar as with eagles’ wings.”
On this feast day of St. Juan Diego, let us recall what our Lord God did for His children through the gift of His Mother in Our Lady of Guadalupe. Ten years after the Spanish conquest, the indigenous peoples of Mexico had been living in utter despair. Their culture, which had existed for hundreds of years, had been destroyed and was in the process of being replaced by a totally foreign one. Years of warfare, disease, and subjugation had left the people broken and without hope. Yet, it was out of this darkness that the Lord chose Juan Diego to reveal the love of His Mother through the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This image, which presents the Virgin Mary as one fully incarnated in the indigenous culture, served as a reminder to both the indigenous population and the Spanish colonials that God had not forgotten any of His children.
As we journey on this Advent season, let us remember that we are called to reflect on the fact that we do not have a God who is foreign to our suffering. In the Incarnation we celebrate that our God, having taken human flesh, entered into our suffering in order to redeem it on the Cross- thereby transforming it into a means of our Salvation. Finally, let us pray for all those who suffer from violence, oppression, rejection, or depression, that they may find comfort in the presence of the God who suffers with them.
Copyright Austin Cruz
Austin Cruz is currently pursuing a Master of Theological Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is a leader for Short Course RCIA and has been active in the Pro-Life movement for seven years.