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Archbishop Gustavo says Advent tells us to be people of hope for others, to continue that mission

December 17, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Archbishop, In the Press, Breaking News

Archbishop Gustavo says Advent tells us to be people of hope for others, to continue that mission

The Federation of Guadalupanos hosted its archdiocesan-wide celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in San Antonio on December 6. Gone this year was the colorful procession of banners from the numerous societies, and the number of matachines was limited to keep with COVID-19 protocols, as 2020 is a time to be honest and take serious steps to change, said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, presider at the Mass.

“Yet a change in society can only start with a change in each of us, especially in our hearts,” he continued. “That is what Pope Francis is calling us to do. That is what Advent is all about.”

In the Gospel at the liturgy John the Baptist calls for change in the people, a complete change of mind and heart called metanoia. He demands that the people embrace repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This is how they will prepare for the coming of the Messiah. John comes out of the desert, just as Israel came out of the desert after leaving Egypt and wandering for 40 years. The prophets come out of the desert. The story of Jesus begins by coming out of the desert by the River Jordan.

“The desert is known as the place for encounters between God and the people. It is also a place of retreat to go away from the world and enter into God’s presence. The desert is the place where people begin a new way of life. It is also a place of hunger,” the archbishop said. “The desert today is the margins of society. That is where we find Jesus. The margins are where the poor and powerless live. It is where we also begin. The desert symbolizes our need to change, to confront our sinfulness and seek a way to be different, to follow the call of God in our lives.”

Archbishop Gustavo added, “Things do not always have to be as they have been in the past. We can make a new world. That is how we prepare for the coming of Jesus.”

St. Mark writes for first century Palestinian Christians, who were afflicted by poverty, disease, and marginalization, much like so many people today in our world whose lives have been worsened by the effects of the pandemic.

“Many people today feel as if there is no hope, as if they are powerless. John promises something new. Things can be different.It is here in the desert, the margins of society, where the people must return to start again, anew, to repent,” the archbishop illustrated.

The San Antonio prelate emphasized that Advent is that time for us; a time of hopeful expectation, of preparing to receive the Lord, to see and recognize Jesus whenever he comes and however he comes. “In order to be ready we must also clear from our lives whatever would not allow us to see Jesus, especially as he comes in those who are not like us, not of our race or ethnic group, the most needy, the sick, the stranger,” he explained. “We must clear out the thinking that we are superior to others, the judging others as being less because they are different from us. Advent tells us Jesus comes in all of these and more. We must prepare to see him.”

In order to be the Good News of Jesus for the world we must be renewed in mind and heart ourselves, stressed Archbishop Gustavo. “What must change in you today?” he asked. “We must change our hearts, our attitudes and our actions. Give hope that something new can happen.”

This year, between the disastrous effects of the pandemic, where the poorest have again suffered the most, we have seen much bad news, the archbishop acknowledged. “Jesus is Good News because he shows how in loving and serving others, especially the least, we can truly change the world. Jesus is the beginning of the mission to spread that good news to the world.”

He quizzed listeners, “Where is the hope today?” Then responded enthusiastically, “It is you and all around you! The Good News is born in those who take the mission of Jesus to others. Find that Good News by sharing it yourself. Make this Advent a new day for you. Look into your heart now and ask what needs to change this Advent. It will allow you to be ready to recognize Jesus as he comes and to be able to share him with others.”

The Missionary of the Holy Spirit prayed that the Virgin Mary who prepared for Jesus and shared him with the world by her faithful response to God’s call, help us see how we can do the same.

Federation President Elivira Cant Arrieta gave closing comments, and the archbishop, along with Msgr. Kevin Ryan, St. Mary’s pastor, blessed a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe after the Mass.