ROME — Pope Francis offered a dire vision of the future Monday, asserting as bad as things are now there are signs worse things are coming.
In his homily at Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which commemorates the 1531 appearance of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico City, the pontiff noted that the celebration comes “at a difficult time for humanity.”
“It is a bitter time, filled with the rumbling of war, growing injustice, famine, poverty and suffering,” the pope said, and this “bleak and disconcerting” bears “omens of even greater destruction and desolation.”
At the same time, in preparation for Christmas, God’s “divine love and his coming down to us tell us that this too is a propitious time of salvation, in which the Lord, through the Virgin Mother, continues to give us his Son.”
Jesus, in fact, calls us “to get involved with each other ‘without delay,’ to go out to meet our brothers and sisters who have been forgotten and discarded by our consumerist and indifferent societies,” he said.
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The coming of God’s Son in human flesh “is the supreme expression of his divine plan directed toward our salvation,” he asserted. “The 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.’”
“Nothing that is ours is foreign to him because he is ‘one of us,’ close, a friend, consubstantial with us in everything but sin,” he added.
Our difficult times recall tough moments from the past, he declared, including that of the mid-16th century.
“Nearly five centuries ago, at a complicated 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 into a recovery of meaning and dignity, into openness to the Gospel,” he contended.
“Our Lady of Guadalupe came to the blessed lands of America, presenting herself as the ‘Mother of the true God for whom we live’ 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,” he said.
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Still today, Our Lady of Guadalupe “invites us to leave behind all the prejudices and fears that populate our hearts and to trust in the ‘true God for whom we live,’ joyfully and confidently directing us to reaffirm our belonging to the Lord,” he added.
The pope went on to urge “all members of the pilgrim Church in the Americas, pastors and faithful, to participate in this celebratory journey that aims to promote an encounter with God through Our Lady of Guadalupe” to be celebrated in nine years, on the 500th anniversary of Mary’s appearance.
“She wants to remind us that it was the Gospel that shaped the soul of Latin America,” he said, “and that as believers in Christ it is our responsibility to be credible witnesses of the love of Jesus Christ and decisive protagonists in building a new culture.”