Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe

"A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Rev 19a

One of the great lessons of Advent and in the lives of the saints is that God comes to the humble.  St. Juan Diego, who has his own feast now after being canonized by Bl John Paul II, described himself to Our Lady of Guadalupe as, " a nobody, .. small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf."  How he wondered would a bishop believe that Mary sent him to request that a church be built in her honor?  After all, by his own account, he was a subsistence farmer and a nobody. 

Hearing his anxiety and fear, Mary assured him that if he took the flowers she gave him which were growing on the top of hill in frozen soil, the bishop would listen to her through him.  Indeed, when he brought the flowers to the bishop as proof of his own integrity and Mary's promise, the cloak with which he was carrying the flowers had an image of the woman who appeared to him.  The bishop was startled, his skepticism melted away, and he ordered that a church be built in Mary's honor and gave Juan Diego permission to receive the Eucharist three times a week, a singular privilege at that time.

St Juan Diego's story always warms us in our fear and anxiety. So too does Juan Diego's reluctance to meet Mary a second time. Because the beautiful lady requested that he go to the bishop and ask that a church be built in her honor, Juan Diego was hesitant about returning to the hill where Mary appeared to him. Learning that his uncle had fallen sick would cause Juan Diego to take a different road the next day and miss his meeting with Mary.  Mary, however, had other plans.  "The Lady" met him on the road to his uncle's home and Juan Diego knew that he could not escape the task set out for him.

Two things help us in this story.  While Juan Diego was given the privilege of more frequent reception of the Eucharist, he had to walk 15 miles to the nearest church. A faith filled life, though privileged, is never easy.   We need to work at it, and even when we try to escape from God, God will find us wherever we are.  God's love and confidence in us is always greater than our own. 

Today, ask God for the faith to see yourself as God sees you.

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