Homily: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Bishop Bonnar speaks from the Pulpit at Our Lady of Guadalupe 2023
Photo by Brian Keith

Happy Feast Day! In this Advent season, we continue our prayerful preparation for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas—Emmanuel—“God is with us.” While we will soon behold the gifts under our trees, we know that the greatest gift is Jesus himself—“the way, the truth, and the life.” He comes that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving.

When we fast forward the story of Jesus, we know that his gifts abound, not just with words and presence, but also with opening us up to a new relationship with our loving God, who is always ready to listen and heal. His gift-giving includes for us a new way of relating to the Father. When the disciples ask Jesus to pray, he not only gives them a formula but a relationship as he instructs them to pray saying, “Our Father.” 

And then, as he suffers and dies on the cross, Jesus turns to his mother and says, “Behold, your son.” And then he turns to the disciples whom he loved and says, “Behold, your mother.”  Subsequently, after the resurrection, Jesus gives to his followers the gift of the Holy Spirit as he breathes on them. Indeed, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving—giving us a new relationship with the loving Father and transforming Spirit and giving us an intimate bond with his Mother.

Tonight, we gather in the Mother Church of our diocese to behold the gift of Mary as our Mother. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis states, “Jesus left us his mother to be our mother … At the foot of the cross, at the supreme hour of the new creation, Christ led us to Mary. He brought us to her because He did not want us to journey without a mother, and our people read in this maternal image all the mysteries of the Gospel.” (# 285)

Tonight, we recall those sacred words Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, uttered to Juan Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?” Mary is our mother as well, and she is here with us at every liturgy and in every aspect of our lives. Pope Francis says it best of Mary: “As a true mother, she walks at our side; she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love … As she did with Juan Diego, Mary offers them [her children] maternal comfort and love.” (#285-286)

At the heart of Mary’s encounter with Juan Diego was a message to build a church on a hill in her honor. While it would become a church under her patronage, it would, like all churches, house her son Jesus. In her messages, Mary uses Juan Diego as a messenger himself to tell the bishop and the rest of the community to find a space for Jesus Christ in their lives. The result of these encounters eventually leads to the building of a shrine which today is the most visited Catholic shrine in all the world. And, no doubt, in recent days that shrine and others like it are overflowed with people seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Just a few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit a shrine under this title in Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. I was struck by the number of people present on a weekday morning. Mary, especially Our Lady of Guadalupe, truly attracts a crowd.

And so, my dear brothers and sisters, what does this Feast mean for us? First, I believe it is an opportunity to acknowledge Mary as our Mother, and in that motherhood, to trust that she is always with us to intercede on our behalf. Mary is always present to listen and comfort us.

Second, this Feast is an opportunity for us to embrace the model of Mary, which is one of receptivity to grace that reaches its fullness in becoming a tabernacle for the presence of Jesus. In asking Juan Diego to build a church, she was asking that there be a place for her son. We need to intentionally strive to find a place for Jesus every day in our thoughts, words and deeds, and follow the mandate of Mary who said at the wedding of Cana of her son, “Do whatever He tells you.”  This also involves being more intentional and reverential in our devotion to the Holy Eucharist in this time of Eucharistic Revival. It is also about striving every day, to not just point to Jesus, but to be Jesus to others.

Finally, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast is a moment for us behold the presence and importance of lay people in the mission of the Church. Juan Diego was a layman. He wore the faith with the image of Mary. And he did what he was asked to do, relative to the mission of the Church. While most of us do not have the benefit of an apparition to convey what our task is, God has a plan for all of us—clergy, religious and faithful alike—that demands our prayerful discernment. As we strive to uncover this plan, we should never hesitate to seek the intercession of our mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is not only our Mother, but she is also one of many gifts given to us which keep on giving. What better way for us to say thanks than to be where are now, in this holy place, praying the greatest of prayers. With honor, glory and praise, we give thanks to our awesome God, and like Mary, Juan Diego and countless others, we aim to do God’s will.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!


¡Feliz Día de Fiesta! En esta temporada de Adviento continuamos nuestra preparación en oración para la venida del Niño Jesús en Navidad, Emanuel, “Dios está con nosotros.” Si bien pronto veremos los regalos debajo de nuestros árboles, sabemos que el regalo más grande es Jesús mismo, “el camino, la verdad, y la vida.” Él viene para que tengamos vida y la tengamos en abundancia. Jesús es el regalo que sigue dando.

Cuando adelantamos rápidamente la historia de Jesús, sabemos que sus dones abundan no solo en palabras y presencia, sino que también abriéndonos a una nueva relación con nuestro amoroso Dios, quien está siempre listo para escuchar y sanar.  Su regalo incluye para nosotros una nueva manera de tener una relación con el Padre. Cuando los discípulos le piden a Jesús que rece, él no solo les da una fórmula sino una relación, mientras les enseña a rezar diciendo “Padre Nuestro”.

Y luego mientras él sufre y muere en la cruz, Jesús se vuelve hacia su madre y le dice, “He aquí tu hijo.” Y luego se vuelve hacia el discípulo a quien amaba y le dice, “He aquí tu madre.” 

Luego, después de la resurrección, al soplar sobre ellos, Jesús da a sus seguidores el don del Espíritu Santo. De hecho, Jesús es el regalo que sigue dando, nos da una nueva relación con el Padre amoroso y el Espíritu transformador, y nos da un vínculo íntimo con su Madre.

Esta noche, nos reunimos en la Iglesia Madre de nuestra diócesis para contemplar el regalo de María como nuestra madre.  En “La Alegría del Evangelio,” el Papa Francisco dice, “Jesús nos dejaba a su madre como madre nuestra…Al pie de la cruz, en la hora suprema de la nueva creación, Cristo nos lleva a María. Él nos lleva a ella, porque no quiere que caminemos sin una madre, y el pueblo lee en esa imagen materna todo lo misterioso del Evangelio.” (#285)

Esta noche, recordamos esas sagradas palabras que María bajo el título de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe le dijo a Juan Diego, “No estoy yo aquí, yo que soy tu madre?” María también es nuestra madre y está aquí con nosotros en cada liturgia y en cada aspecto de nuestras vidas. 

El Papa Francisco lo dice mejor sobre María. “Como una verdadera madre, ella camina con nosotros, lucha con nosotros, y derrama constantemente la cercanía del amor de Dios…Como a San Juan Diego, María les da la caricia de su consuelo maternal…” (#285-286)

En el centro del encuentro de María con Juan Diego hubo un mensaje de construir en su honor, una iglesia en la colina. Si bien iba a ser una iglesia bajo su patrocinio, sería como si todas las iglesias albergaran a su hijo Jesús. En sus mensajes, María usa a Juan Diego como su mensajero para decirle al obispo y al resto de la comunidad que encontraran un espacio para Jesucristo en sus vidas. El resultado de estos encuentros finalmente lleva a la construcción de un santuario que hoy es el santuario católico más visitado del mundo. Y sin duda, en días recientes ese santuario y otros como él, han sido muy visitados por personas que buscan la intercesión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

Hace solo unos meses, tuve la oportunidad de visitar un santuario con este nombre en Des Plaines, Illinois, un suburbio de Chicago. Me llamó la atención la cantidad de gente presente en una mañana de un día entre semana. María, en especial  Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, realmente atrae a una multitud.

Entonces, mis queridos hermanos y hermanas, ¿qué significa esta Fiesta para nosotros? Primero, creo que es una oportunidad para reconocer a María como nuestra Madre, y en esa maternidad confiar en que ella está siempre con nosotros para interceder en nuestro nombre. María está siempre presente para escucharnos y consolarnos.

Segundo, esta Fiesta es una oportunidad para que abracemos el modelo de María, que es uno de aceptación a la gracia que alcanza su plenitud al convertirse en un tabernáculo para la presencia de Jesús. 

Al pedirle a Juan Diego que construyera una iglesia, estaba pidiendo que hubiera un lugar para su hijo. Necesitamos esforzarnos intencionalmente por encontrar un lugar para Jesús todos los días en nuestros pensamientos, palabras y acciones y seguir el mandato de María, quien dijo en las bodas de Caná sobre su hijo: “Hagan lo que él les diga”. Esto involucra tener más intención y reverencia en nuestra devoción a la Sagrada Eucaristía en este tiempo de Avivamiento Eucarístico. También se trata de esforzarse cada día no sólo por señalar a Jesús sino para ser Jesús para los demás.

Finalmente, la Fiesta de nuestra Señora de Guadalupe es un momento para que abracemos la presencia y la importancia de la gente laica en la misión de la Iglesia. Juan Diego era un laico. Llevó la fe con la imagen de María e hizo lo que se le pidió en relación con la misión de la Iglesia. Si bien la mayoría de nosotros no tenemos el beneficio de una aparición que nos transmita cuál es nuestra tarea, Dios tiene un plan para todos nosotros, clérigos, religiosos y fieles por igual, que exige nuestro discernimiento en oración. Mientras nos esforzamos por descubrir este plan, nunca debemos dudar en buscar la mediación de nuestra madre, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Ella no es sólo nuestra Madre, sino que también es uno de los muchos regalos que nos han dado y que nos siguen dando. Qué mejor manera de decir gracias que estar donde estamos ahora, en este lugar santo, rezando la mayor de las oraciones. Con honor, gloria y alabanza, damos gracias a nuestro maravilloso Dios y, como María, Juan Diego y muchos otros, aspiramos a hacer la voluntad de Dios.

¡Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, reza por nosotros!

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Bishop David J. Bonnar

Bishop David J. Bonnar

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Most Reverend David J. Bonnar was installed as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown on January 12, 2021. He received a bachelor degree in Social Communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome receiving a Bachelor in Sacred Theology (STB) in 1987 from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. As a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop Bonnar served as parochial vicar at Saint Vitus Parish, New Castle; Saint Rosalia Parish, Greenfield; and Saint Thomas More Parish, Bethel Park. He served as chaplain at Central Catholic High School and as Director of Vocations, Director of the Pre-Ordination program, Director of the Permanent Diaconate program and Rector of Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh. In 2009, Bishop Bonnar was appointed pastor of Saint Bernard Parish, Mt. Lebanon and from 2018 also served as administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Scott Township. In 2020, he was named pastor of Saint Aidan Parish, Wexford. On November 17, 2020, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him the sixth Bishop of Youngstown. In addition to his ministerial assignments, Bishop Bonnar has also served on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Post-Ordination Board, Clergy Personnel Board, Seminary Admissions Board, Chair of the Permanent Diaconate Admissions Board, Chair of the Priestly Formation Board, and Chair of the Priesthood Candidate Admission Board. Since 2014, Bishop Bonnar has been the editor of The Priest magazine and in 2020 was appointed a member of the National Advisory Board for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For 12 years Bishop Bonnar was also chaplain to the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team.
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