December 12, 2013

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The image of our Lady that hangs outside our gym
Today the Church celebrates the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This feast marks the appearance of Mary to a peasant Indian named Juan Diego in 1531 in modern day Mexico City.  Mary told Juan Diego to tell the bishop to build a church in her honor on that spot.  The bishop, of course, didn't believe Juan Diego and after a few attempts, Mary told Juan Diego to bring back roses as proof - roses being impossible to come by in the winter in the 16th century.  When Juan Diego dropped the roses down from his cloak, an image of Mary appeared on his cloak, one of Mary with the features and dress of a native.  This image is one of the most revered in the Catholic Church and the original still basilica that was built in Mexico City.
hangs in the

This feast is very important to Latinos and has taken on enormous significance in light of the population growth of Latinos in the Western world.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is to Latinos what Saint Patrick is to the Irish.

To mark this feast we are having brief prayer services in the chapel today during theology classes.  I am explaining the story of the feast and we all pray the Magnificat of Mary.  I am also offering the following reflection:

Any of you who have had me for History class know how much I love Ken Burns, the New Hampshire native who makes History movies.  A few years ago he made a film called “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”  The underlying premise of the film was that National Parks are the essence of American democracy - the greatest and most beautiful land in our country is owned by the American people, not by the rich or powerful.

In that same sense, today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds us too that God does not favor the rich or the powerful.  Rather, He looks to the poor, the lowly, the outcasts to carry out His work.  Mary was a poor teenage girl from Nazareth which was a poor outpost in the Roman Empire.  His Son was not born to Mary in a castle or a fancy hospital.  Rather, He was born in a barn.  Mary did not appear to king or bishop in 1531 in Mexico City, she appeared to a poor, lowly Indian.  

There is a pattern here.  The poor, those who are bullied, those who are made fun of, those who are different - they are the ones God will call and use to do His work.  God loves the rich and the powerful, of course, but they already have everything they need.  God wants to build up His kingdom here on Earth using people like Mary, Juan Diego, and you, and me, regular people who seem forgotten but who in the end, “all generations will call blessed.”  Amen.

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