Here is Cardinal Norberto Rivera’s homily to the missionaries:
dear brothers and sisters of Youth for the Third
Millennium and Missionary Families for the Third Millennium, very dear
brothers in the priestly ministry, the solemnity of Saint Joseph,
which we celebrate today, marks the starting point of an
intense week of evangelization in the farthest corners of the
Many of you are evangelizing already in the daily
realities of the Archdiocese of Mexico, and now you are
joining with thousands of missionaries in other parts of the
Mexican Republic and of the world completely dedicating this Holy
Week to preaching the Gospel of Jesus to your brothers
in the faith.
The example we see in Saint Joseph sheds
light on the invitation that each one of you has
heard and received since the day of your Baptism. The mystery
of Saint Joseph could be said to be an image
of the missionary soul of each and every one of
Saint Joseph, as we have heard in the Gospel, found
himself in a dilemma: he did not know what to
do when faced with the self-evident fact of Mary’s pregnancy. Because
his heart was just and full of love, he chose
the more difficult path, the path of self-sacrifice, so as
to keep Mary from suffering dishonor and death. St. Joseph preferred
to be labeled as an irresponsible, untrustworthy man, and unjust
man, before permitting Mary to suffer.
Nevertheless, in a mysterious dream,
God revealed to him the truth of the Jesus’ virginal
conception, at the same time giving him a mission: "Do
not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your
home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child
has been conceived in her. She will bear a son
and you are to name him Jesus, because he will
save his people from his sins." At this, Joseph joyfully and
generously did what the angel of the Lord had commanded.
of this sums up what you are going to live
in this Holy Week. You will face anguishing situations that will
require not just any response, but a response that implies
generosity and sacrifice. The faith of thousands of our brothers, with
whom you are going to come in contact during these
days, is at risk. The danger is that they may
wander farther from the Church, but also that they may
lack of knowledge of Christ and closeness to the sacramental
life and to the Word of God.
You are going to
visit communities that are only rarely visited by a priest. You
are going to bring the Gospel to homes that many
times have forgotten the spiritual dimension of their lives, due
to the misery, abandonment, or ignorance in which they live. You
are going to bring a word of hope to communities
that have felt their faith diminish little by little. Many of
these communities have begun to feel pressured to abandon their
faith and the Church by various sects.
This Holy Week, you
are going to respond to the anguishes of many hearts. Like
Saint Joseph, the only authentic response is not to measure
the personal sacrifice that bringing the Word of God to
your brothers entails, but rather to take on the responsibility
that the Lord has placed in the hands of each
and every one of you. It is a sacrifice that
is not only fruit of the discomforts proper to sharing
the shortages of the communities you are going to visit,
but it is a sacrifice that means renouncing good things
so as to dedicate yourselves to much better things.
you could be living this Holy Week, with its rites
and ceremonies, its spirituality and its closeness to Christ, from
the peace and comfort of your homes. Nonetheless, you have left
your homes in order to give a little more, to
reach out your hand to the Christ who suffers in
his Mystical Body and is crucified in the hearts of
your brothers and sisters. Without your generosity and sacrifice, it would
be impossible for the light of Christ to arrive to
the hearts of many of our brothers and sisters, of
many men and women, boys and girls.
What a mystery it
is that God has wanted to make use of you
and of your sacrifices to make his Fatherly love felt
by these people who feel abandoned, who are rejected, who
have seldom been evangelized. All of this is possible only when
we have a clear sense of the mission.
In his dream,
Saint Joseph received a mission: to take Mary as his
wife and to name Jesus. As you gather today in
the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, you
also are receiving a mission: to bring Jesus’ name to
others, to make Jesus’ name more loved and more known
in the communities you are going to visit. Bring others to
discover Jesus, present in the Eucharist. Discover the presence of Jesus
in these communities. Make Jesus’ name known, and so fill the
lives of many human beings who feel abandoned with hope
You very well know the conditions of hopelessness that
burden many of our small towns in Mexico. Poverty, migration, sickness,
and ignorance are situations that wound the human heart and
rob the glimmer of hope from one’s eyes as they
gaze on the future. But what we need is an attitude
like Saint Joseph’s, for as we have just heard in
the Gospel, Joseph did what the angel of the Lord
had commanded him.
The needs of our brothers and the mission
that God has entrusted to us require a response from
all of us, a response characterized by obedience: a “yes”
that implies readiness to follow the concrete path of the
will of our Lord.
For St. Joseph, this path implied taking
responsibility for the Holy Family. It implied changing his own plans
in order to submit them to the mysterious plans of
God. It implied betting his life on a path that was
not always clear, which it wasn’t from the very beginning,
but with the certainty that it would fill his heart
with joy, as it would the hearts of many others.
is the path of every Christian’s vocation, a path of
constant attentiveness to the will of God so as to
carry out his work. You, as missionaries, have heard God’s voice
speaking to you in many ways: through a friend, through
your school or university, through your own prayer, or through
the example of one of your own family members who
has already had this experience.
However, the voice that calls you
to missions does not cease to speak once Holy Week
is over. God’s voice continues to speak to the heart, and
it continues to say: do not be afraid, carry out
what I have entrusted to you!
Missionary families, young people, do
not be afraid to be a courageous testimony to the
faith in a world that is ever less Christian. Do not
be afraid to approach its sons and teach them the
way of love and truth!
Young missionaries: do not cease listening
to the voice of God in your heart; do not
be afraid! These Holy Week Missions can be the beginning of
a conversion to God that invites you not only to
give a week of your year, but rather to be
witnesses of the hope that springs from Christ.
Young people, Christ
is expecting a lot from you. Perhaps he may be
asking you to give him your lives as priests or
lay consecrated, or to give a year or more as
coworkers at the service of the Church. And above all,
he is expecting you to live your family life in
all its dimensions.
Missionary families and youth, do not be afraid,
like St. Joseph, to carry out your mission. The key is
to bring Mary with you, to accept Mary, the Mother
of the Lord.
Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is once again
telling us, as she told Juan Diego: do not be
afraid. Open your heart to the mission; open your heart
to your brothers. Make your heart wide open to the very
Christ you are now going to bring to these communities. There,
you will find Christ present in the midst of these
communities. Help them to discover him, and discover him yourselves, that
he may accompany you your whole life long.
May the sweet
gaze of Mary accompany you in your missionary work throughout
these days and the rest of your life.
The text of
this homily was distributed by www.basilicadeguadalupe.org.mx