January 31, 2010
Pocket Size Faith
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 4: 21-30 “But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away”
One of the things that struck me when I visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico was the flags of different nations at the left side of the altar. The huge Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the greatest Marian shrine in the whole world and is visited by 20 million pilgrims annually. Such extra-ordinary devotion to Mother Mary would never come true without the courage of Juan Diego, an ordinary Indian, chosen by Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the bearer of her message to Bishop Zumarraga to build a “teocalli” (temple) on the hill of Tepeyac where she would offer all her love, compassion and protection to all people.
Juan Diego knew his limitations; he begged our Lady to ask somebody instead of him. But our Lady wanted him to be her messenger to the bishop. The trust given to him by our Lady was enough for Juan Diego to overcome fear, foul remarks and possible death for heresy and did what our Lady wished. He was rewarded with honor and vindication. On December 12, 1531, when Juan Diego courageously brought an ordinary “tilma” (cloth) with flowers to Bishop Zumarraga, it miraculously revealed the image of our Lady, known today as Lady Guadalupe.
Our gospel today is a continuation of last week’s gospel where Jesus proclaimed the good news of God. But the story took a different twist and grounded us to certain realities about good news bearers. Instead of receiving praises from the crowd, Jesus’ authority was questioned. Though disappointed, it did not stop Jesus from telling the truth and the crowd was offended.
Part and parcel of being God’s messenger is the possibility of being insulted, humiliated and questioned. The Good News we bring is “light in the midst of darkness.” And the Prince of Darkness hates” bearers of the Light.” Bringing good news to others may not always mean a “walk in the park” but a “walk in the storm.”
We don’t want to be criticized, belittled and ridiculed. We admire bearers of good news like Juan Diego, Lorenzo Ruiz, Mother Theresa of Calcuta, Gandhi, Cory Aquino and others, not only because of the miracles they did, but also because of their courage to transcend from their fear, limitations and weaknesses. How did they do those wonderful things? The first reading gives us the answer: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you… They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:5,19)
Courage is a matter of discovering “Who created us?” and “Who are we?” When we discover ourselves, we discover our strength and our potential to make “pocket miracles.” When St.Ignatius of Loyola said to himself, “If Dominic and Francis did it, I could do it also.” He simply discovered who he was. "For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4)
The bad spirit knows who we are and our giftedness; he spends most of his time and energy convincing us that we are nothing and God does not care. He is good in convincing us that we are just ordinary mortal beings, incapable of doing something good in this world.
Saints are ordinary people and sinners like us, yet they did marvel in our lives because they are intimately united with God. The bad spirit hates us when we pray. He does not want us to discover the big lie he loves to tell. Be faithful in your prayer and gain a pocket size faith; that’s more than enough to bring pockets of miracles in your life.
- Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ / Loyola Marymount University / Los Angeles