Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

What I find most interesting about the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is how she appeared to Juan Diego. The image of Mary on Juan Diego’s tilma shows a pregnant mestiza girl. Mary looked this way even though she was a Palestinian who had long since given birth. But this was how Mary appeared to him, and how she signaled her concern for all the peoples of the Americas. The indigenous and mestizo people of Mexico were little more than cheap labor for the King of Spain. But she, the Queen of Heaven, came to Juan Diego looking like him, and showing that his people were her people. She knew what Juan Diego and the people of Guadalupe needed to see to understand the saving power of God, and presented this.

Mary of all people knows how overwhelming God’s message can be. Every time she appears, she begins with a moment of motherly tenderness when she reassures the people she is appearing to, and gives them strength. When Gabriel appeared to Mary, the Gospel tells us that she was “greatly troubled,” and that Gabriel had to reassure her, saying “do not be afraid.” Mary knows how we can be afraid of God’s message, and knows the fear of the people she shows herself to. The message of the Gospel is unsettling and powerful. But in looking at feasts like today’s, we see how God is patient with us, beginning with a message we can understand, and gradually leading us to still greater things.

December 12th, 2016