Antonio Gallardo on Sunday, December 11, 2016:
Today we are here celebrating our Lady of Guadalupe, who has also been proclaimed the patroness of the Americas, the Empress of Latin America, and the Protector of Unborn Children. And we are bringing our best to this celebration, great music including Mariachis, dancing, roses and candles, inspiring and moving readings; and the celebration does not end here, we will continue with a Convivio after the service with more music, and delicious food, including tamales, and community fellowship. What an appropriate time in the life of our Country for our Lady to come and remind us that she is not a mellow, mute virgin, but that she is a warrior, who from the very beginning has challenged the establishment, the dark forces of the world.
Not only she has been a symbol of unification, she has also been an active participant in the fight, “la lucha,” against oppression, unfairness, and social injustice. She was present, “presente” in The Mexican War of Independence, and the Mexican Revolution. Both wars were led with flags including an image of our Lady of Guadalupe.
Guadalupe also served as an icon and a symbol for farmworkers in their fight to gain union representation and recognition of their rights. A fight led by César Chávez and Dolores Huerta. Referring to Guadalupe, Dolores Huerta Said that “she is a symbol of faith, hope, and leadership.”
We have also seen the Guadalupe image in the marches here in Los Angeles advocating for fair immigration reform, and against deportation, organized by our friend Francisco García, and Father Richard Estrada, among others.
Guadalupe has been leading us too every year when we do the Posadas here at All Saints, a march inspired by Jesus and Mary’s immigration journey to represent the journey of our very own immigrants searching for refuge.
Guadalupe is ready for action!!, in what we consider would be very challenging times under a Trump Presidency for women, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ, and for people with disabilities.
If we look at the promises that President-elect Trump made during the campaign, we can see that the dark system of power will come to play, in total opposition to the world that God intended for us to live in.
We can summarize what seems to be the three main drivers of a Trump presidency around three elements:
Greed: We want to put more money in the hands of our American people!! By renegotiating every trade agreement that is not favorable to the USA; imposing tariffs on goods made in Mexico; we want to bring back production without any concern for what we leave behind in those countries; build a wall – and Mexico will pay for it !! (so that no one else shares in our riches);
Pride: We are the superpower of the world !! And we will reaffirm that position by renegotiating Iran’s deal, rebuilding our military and increasing military investment;
Honor: Look at us. Let’s make America great again !! (because a Presidency under Obama did not); let’s repeal Obamacare, and reverse Obama’s executive action in support of the DACA (dreamers Act)
Greed, Pride and Honor are not values of God’s world. God’s world is a world full of love and compassion; unlike Trump’s economy, God’s economy is based upon distributing, not taking. God’s economy is simply God’s plan to distribute itself into humanity.
In God’s intention to distribute itself to many people in mass production, and free of charge, God has also assembled its administration. The administration that God needs to bring itself into humanity.
I don’t know if you checked CNN today, but God released a list of people in his Cabinet. God’s cabinet includes:
– Chief Strategist: Jesus of Nazareth;
– Secretary of State: John the Baptist;
– Chief of Staff: Our Lady of Guadalupe;
– Secretary of Defense: Mahatma Gandhi;
– Secretary of the Department of health and human services: Desmond Tutu;
– Ambassador to the United Nations: Mother Teresa of Calcutta;
– Co-secretaries of Agriculture: Dolores Huerta and César Chavez
We are an integral part of God’s mass production system too, and to become active producers the qualifications that we need are two: Spiritual Poverty and Humility.
Today, both in the lesson and the Gospel, God gave us two examples of human beings like you and I who changed the world in response to God’s call.
God decides to incarnate, to become human among us in the person of Jesus, through this low-income teenager, who lived with her parents, and who was engaged to Jesus, and who was probably not that highly educated.
In the lesson we heard that Guadalupe chose Juan Diego- a farmer, native Indian, low-income, probably not that educated, to challenge the existing system of oppression represented by the conquerors, and the highly bureaucratic Church.
Were both of them expecting these calls? Apparently not from the way that they initially reacted
The Gospel said that Mary was much perplexed by the words of the Angel, and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then she said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
And Juan Diego’s response to Guadalupe was “I earnestly beg you, my Queen, that it be one of the principle ones, those who are known, respected and esteemed, that you send to take your message, so it might be believed. Because I am a farmer from around there, I am rope, I am a ladder, I am the excrement of the people, I am a leaf.”
In this season of Advent, a season of expectancy, what is leaping inside you?
It is a desire to fight:
- To overcome homelessness;
- To avoid the elimination of DACA;
- To avoid massive deportations;
- To protect the rights of women, LGBTQ, disabled people, immigrants
It is a desire to register with our Muslim brothers and sisters if the Muslim registry is implemented? or
It is desire to provide refuge in your own home to someone that is threatened to be deported?
If this is the kind of call that you are experiencing, like Mary and Juan Diego, you may ask ourselves, why Me? I can’t, these things are too big for me !.
If you feel that desire to act, do not be afraid, I encourage you to answer like Mary and Juan Diego did:
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” “My dear Lady, I will not cause you affliction; I will go willingly to fulfill your will; in no way will I leave it aside nor will the task be difficult. I shall go to do your will, though I may not be listened to with a good Disposition. I will talk to them even if they don’t believe me”
Through Baptism we have all received the same Spirit that Jesus received to fulfill his mission, the same Spirit that moved Mary and Juan Diego to say yes to their call. So, we have what we need to accomplish our mission – the Spirit of God that was given to us by God’s grace.
Brothers and Sisters, If Mary and Juan Diego lived here in the USA now on December 2016, they will be as fearful as many of us are in light of the next presidential administration. They would be fearful because of who they are as a woman, minority, colored, low-income, and uneducated.
And today, not by chance, God has brought to us one of the key members of God’s cabinet, Chief of Staff Our Lady of Guadalupe, a warrior that through history has been at the forefront of the fight for social justice, for “la lucha.”
She does not want to be enclosed in my office. She is ready to walk with us in every march, and demonstration, resisting the dark forces that are threatening God’s economy of love and compassion.
Let us ask her to lead us in this difficult times in the life our country. Amen
Antonio Gallardo serves as the Pastor for Latino Ministries at All Saints Church in Pasadena. This sermon was preached at the bilingual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Sunday, December 11, 2016.