Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Our Lady of Guadalupe (homily)
First, let’s talk about what happened on this day in AD 1531, 481 years ago.
Mary appeared to an ordinary person,
who was, in turn, sent to the powerful, who didn’t believe the message.
How often that is how it works!
Think of Joan of Arc, or Bernadette at Lourdes,
the three children at Fatima, or Gideon in the Bible,
or Mary and Joseph themselves.
How about you? Have you ever had someone come to you,
Who maybe didn’t dress or speak well, who seemed…a little off?
Second, let’s talk about the image of our Lady of Guadelupe.
So much has been written on this,
and I encourage you to read more about it.
The image appeared on the cloak that Juan Diego was wearing;
he had used it to gather up roses he found on the hill--
just as Mary said he would.
When he came to the bishop--who asked for a sign!--
he unfolded his cloak, and there it was!
That image is on display in Mexico City. I’ve seen it.
She stands on a moon which seems to be made of snake-skin.
That seems odd to us; however, in Juan Diego’s time,
Mexico was under the influence of Aztec worship--of a serpent.
That worship involved human sacrifice.
We in North America, almost 500 years later,
see a fascinating image of our Lady.
But the people of Mexico saw much more.
They saw God telling them they were valuable to Him.
They saw Mary, not as a European, but as someone of mixed-race.
They saw a message to reject paganism and embrace Christ.
I visited Mexico in 2008, and I was there on this feast.
It’s very hard to explain how important this event
is to the people of Mexico.
Which leads to a final point.
Why did our bishops make this a feast day?
Neither Fatima or Lourdes are ranked as high as this day.
Our bishops are calling us to see ourselves
in solidarity with the rest of the people of North and South America.
So often, those of us whose ancestors were European, or African,
look at the people of Central and South America
as very different people from us. Too often, we look down on them.
But we might remind ourselves that this key miracle
didn’t happen in the United States.
God chose Mexico. Long before any settlements happened up here.