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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Cardinal Rivera: "You are going to respond to the anguishes of many hearts"
Cardinal Noberto Rivera presided over the Opening Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe for this year’s Megamissions in Mexico City. 8,000 young people, 2,500 families, 130 priests of the Legionaries of Christ, and thousands of rural catechists.

El Card. Norberto Rivera Carrera dando la cruz de la misión en la misa en envío 2005

Here is Cardinal Norberto Rivera’s homily to the missionaries:


Very 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 Mexican Republic.

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 you.

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.

All 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.

Many of 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 and meaning.

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.

This 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



Related links web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Helping Hands Medical Missions

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