Third Sunday of Advent – The Desert Blooms and We Meet Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent and we light the pink or rose candle, marking Gaudete Sunday. This is a day of rejoicing!  It is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. What do the story of blooming in the desert and Our Lady of Guadalupe have to do with one another? Well, in another scriptural theme for this week – be patient!

In our first reading, from Isaiah, we hear about how the desert will blossom and burst into life! New life will come springing forth, where no life could exist from all appearances. What a thought!

Here in the northeast, in upstate New York, although the soil can be sandy, we don’t live in a desert. The desert appears barren, sparse, devoid of life, but it is not. Today I found this article about the desert in Qatar that says:

For a short period in the winter, rain brings the Qatar desert to life. After one of these rains, France Gillespie, author of Discovering Qatar, takes a walk in the desert to explore the plants and animals that inhabit this normally barren place.

It’s amazing, the difference a drop of rain can make. Almost overnight, it seems, the desert springs to life.  Millions of seeds have been lying dormant, waiting to be triggered into action, and the plants that soldier on all the year round: the gnarled, camel-chewed bushes of Desert Thorn [Lycium shawii] and the dusty, Zygophyllum qatarensis, with its salty-tasting fleshy lobes, found all over Qatar, have suddenly sprouted new growth.

It is amazing – right out of the parched sand, comes such vibrant growth!  That is exactly what Isaiah was talking about – literally. More than literally however, we are given a glimpse of God’s promise for us, truly life where there was just a barren desert. What hope we have, what joy.

So now you may be wondering, what all this has to do with either the Gospel from today or where Our Lady of Guadalupe comes in…  As St. James told us in that second reading, be patient!

In today’s Gospel, we hear once again about John as the prophet, the precursor to Jesus. Who announces the Lord is important too.

In 1531, Juan Diego was a humble man, minding his own business when he encountered such an “announcement.” He heard birds singing, he heard his name called out. Who was looking for him? It was Our Lady of Guadalupe, but he did not quiet know or understand just who that was yet! Out of the ordinary landscape bloomed a beautiful woman, with an important message. This message, like a bloom in the desert, would stand out and change everything.

What was once barren, would bring forth life. You see, the local people, by and large, did not have much of an interest in converting to the Catholic religion. And who could blame them? The messages coming to them were not compelling them and you have to wonder just how they were treated by their colonial masters.

However, that was about to change.

Well the rest of the story gets us to the point where flowers bloom on top of Tepeyac hill, in December. These bright and fragrant roses grew where no growth was. Juan Diego, following Our Lady’s instructions, took them to the Bishop. Of course, the roses were placed and wrapped in Juan’s simple tilma and it was the opening of the tilma that revealed the image that is with us to this day. This changed many things – including how the indigenous people came to see the Catholic church.

Our Lady of Guadalupe was announcing the coming of the Lord into the hearts of many, not unlike John the Baptist did so many years before.

The dew, the rain in our own lives is grace and what might spring forth is as rich as the bloom in the desert. God brings us this new life and we round this joyful corner that the Third Sunday of Advent marks.



4 thoughts on “Third Sunday of Advent – The Desert Blooms and We Meet Our Lady of Guadalupe

  1. Thank you Fran, this is beautiful. Prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe are so needed in our world today, especially in the US. May she watch over and protect us and lead us to her Son.Andie


  2. My spiritual director—a certain Episcopal Benedictine prior of your virtual acquaintance—said that if TEC wanted to get serious in our evangelism to Latinos (esp. Mexicans), we should have an image of OLG in every parish……and *I* said, why that creeped me out. In short: the whole "Mother of the Unborn" thing (that her sash supposedly "proves" she's pregnant. Another thing of RC apparitions—like supposed apparitions of the Christ Child—their anachronicity!).I don't have a problem w/ the meme "Mary, Mother of…", per se. How 'bout, "Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of Happily Expectant Mothers"?But w/ Guadalupe, I see contemporary Popoids using the ol' "Apparition as Divine Stamp o' Dogmatic Approval!" (See re "Lourdes/Immaculate Conception" ;-p) for their particular (sectarian) anthropological faith-claims (the imputed "humanity" of the Homo sapiens embryo, from "the moment of conception"). And I can't go there.Don't get me wrong: I like Juan Diego, the tilma, the roses in December, the healing of the sick uncle, the credulous bishop. Lots of winning plot points in the pitch!But the drafting of a Mexican Indian's miracle, into the Culture Wars makes me, reluctantly, say No Thank You.


  3. Very nice juxtaposition of Gaudete and Gaudalupe (did you notice the words have the same first four letters?). Now often referred to as Our Lady of the Americas, she certainly can intercede for our country in this time when we have so many critical needs. Thanks for your always wonderful insights.


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