Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
First Reading: Zechariah 2:14-17
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.
Responsorial Psalm: JDT 13:18BCDE, 19
R. (15:9d) You are the highest honor of our race.
Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
The Blessed Virgin Mary said in today's Gospel, in an act of radical faith, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Without hesitating, she accepted the Holy Spirit and all the messenger angel shared—fully and completely. Even though it was difficult and would change her life and the entire world, forever. This unknown gift, this unforeseeable path for her, she truly embraced.
On a profoundly smaller scale, when I was in high school, I had an unforgettable experience where I felt I faced an unknown gift and learned to embrace it, too.
I was about fifteen years old and in the throws of finding out about life. I wondered what to wear. I wondered how to act. It is a challenging age. I wanted to simultaneously fit in and stand out. I wanted to be unique, as long as I was not too unique. Everything seemed too big. Too hard. Too much.
But I had a safe space.
On Saturday evenings, I went to our youth Mass followed by Life Teen. It was the highlight of my week. After an intense school week, I found comfort in my circle of friends there. I learned about Jesus, His message, and how to be faith-filled in the world. I struggled with the message at times, but it shaped me in those years.
But I had this weight on my heart.
I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was failing. I would break down in tears while I prayed, begging to know why I felt this immense weight on my shoulders and my heart. At times I would feel these intense waves of sadness, fear, anxiety, and worry. I did not know where it was coming from. I did not know how to deal with it. One night, while we were praying the Rosary at Life Teen, I completely broke down. I was sobbing, uncontrollably. One of our core members, a sweet older woman, took me aside, wrapped me up in her arms and said,
Samantha, I am sensing something in you. You have a gift. You have a gift of the Holy Spirit. You feel what others are feeling. You take on what they feel. It is a gift.
Wait, what? A gift? I did not think it was a gift. I thought it was a curse. I did not want to feel the emotions of others. I was not ready for it.
Over ten years later and I still remember what that kind friend said to me. I fought it for years. I rebelled against it. I tried to numb it. But finally, I have embraced it. I allow others to affect me—their joys AND their woes. I am still learning how to utilize this gift and I still wonder why it happens. But I accept that it is a gift. A weighty gift. I turned to Our Lady and reflected on what she endured and how her amazing gift of being the Mother of God changed all of our lives.
May we all accept what is sent to us—even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard. And know Our Mother has gone before us, sisters.
Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife, mom of two, and dentist currently living in The Bay Area, California. You can find out more about her here.