Weekly Reflection 12/8/19

The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe

                The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) goes back to the 16th century. A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized, and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower, and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady.

                Juan was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music, like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared, and within it stood a woman who looked like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him with a message to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga.

                The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared. Eventually, the bishop told Juan to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan’s uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Juan to try to avoid the lady. Nevertheless, the lady found Juan, assured him that his uncle would recover, and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape, or tilma. On December 12, when Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop’s presence, the roses fell to the ground, and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma where the roses had been appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.

                So, let us reflect on this event. Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego as one of his own people is a powerful reminder that Mary and God accept all people. In the context of the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the indigenous people by the Spaniards, the apparition was a rebuke to the Spaniards and an event of vast significance for the indigenous population. While a number of them had converted before this incident, they now came to the faith in droves. According to a contemporary chronicler, nine million indigenous people became Catholic in a very short time. In these days when we hear so much about God’s love for us, God shows through this event that He loves everyone; all races, languages, and backgrounds. He also shows preferential option for the poor, the widows/widowers, the needy, and the oppressed. Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God’s love for and identification with the poor, the widows/widowers, the needy and the oppressed is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.

                Join us for the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at the 5 p.m. mass at St. Francis de Sales Church.