Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent
FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Psalm JUDITH 13:18BCDE, 19
Gospel LK 1:26-38
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. 12:1
The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is quite beautiful. The Virgin Mary appeared, dressed as a native Aztec princess, to St. Juan Diego, in 1531 in Mexico. She asked this simple peasant farmer to be her messenger – Juan Diego was to request the bishop to build a church on Tepeyac Hill, on the place where she appeared. She did not want this for her own glory, but so that there might be a special place for the people – her children – in Mexico to come and pray. Juan Diego felt like he was the wrong person for this task, being a simple farmer, but he nevertheless went to the bishop. The bishop met with him twice, but unsurprisingly said no. If Mary wanted him to embrace this message, he would need proof, some kind of sign that what Juan Diego said was true.
Juan Diego passed the message on when Mary appeared on the hill a third time. Mary promised Juan Diego a sign the next day. However, Juan Diego’s uncle became very ill the following morning. Juan Diego stayed home all day, caring for him. He would not be able to go to the hill to meet Mary; there would be no miracle on December 11. Juan Diego felt he had utterly failed.
On December 12, Juan Diego went in search of a priest for his critically ill uncle. He traveled a different route than usual, as he could not face seeing Tepeyac Hill and being reminded of the missed appointment with Mary. Yet Mary appeared to him again on the alternate path. Juan Diego explained what had happened the day before and begged to be allowed to met her as soon as he found a priest for his uncle. Mary responded with, “Am I not here, I who am your mother?”
She promised Juan’s uncle would be well by the time Juan Diego returned home, then sent the peasant farmer to a nearby hill for the promised sign. There, Juan Diego was surprised to find the hilltop covered in a flower he had never seen before, blooming beautifully in spite of it being December. He gathered the flowers, arranging them as Mary instructed him.
Juan wrapped the flowers carefully in his tilma – a type of cloak worn in cooler weather by the men of his region – and went to the bishop yet again. He told the bishop what had occurred, and then opened his tilma. The roses tumbled out, and to the surprise of all a beautiful image of Our Lady dressed exactly as she had appeared to Juan Diego appeared where the roses had been.
The bishop fell to his knees, overwhelmed by the miracle.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is very special to the people of Mexico, but should also be special to us all. We always worship God, in all His glory. But, at times, he can feel far away. So Mary, our Mother, reminds us that she is always there, ready to love all her children, and to help them pray and love and know her her Son.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!