Tuesday, December 11, Second Week in Advent
Lukes version of theis parable is better known because it is read on Sundays. We call it the parable of the lost sheep.
But Matthew uses the word stray instead of lost (stray appears three times in this passage.) Getting lost often means accidentally losing the way. To stray can imply deliberately roving from the course we know is right.
When we sin, we probably see ourselves more in the stray category deliberately leaving the right path. We can identify with the words ascribed to St. Paul
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patientce. (1Tim 1:15-18)
We have to be sure to take in the whole first sentence of the quote: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The first thing the Lord says to a sinner isnt Why did you stray? The first thing he says is simply, I came into the world for you.
Our celebration of Christmas isnt simply that Christ came into the world. Its that he came into the world for sinners.
Wednesday, December 12, Second Week in Advent
On December 9, 1511 (10 years after the Spanish conquests), Mary appeared to a native Aztec name Juan Diego along a country trail near present day Mexico City. The striking thing was that Marys features and clothing were Aztec, and she spoke to him in that language. Mary instructed Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site to replace a pagan shrine.
Juans efforts to convince the bishop failed. Finally, in her third appearance to Juan, Mary told him to take nearby roses (unusual at that time of year) as a sign. Juan put some in his cloak. When he came to the bishop and unfolded the cloak, imprinted on it was the painting of Mary that has since become famous.
Juan Diegos cloak now hangs in the huge church of Our Lady of Guadalupe built on that site. After nearly 500 years, the picture on the cloak shows no sign of deterioration and artists have been unable to duplicate the combination of materials used in the paint.
The feast of St. Juan Diego is celebrated on December 9.