Wednesday, March 06, 2013

"Am I Not Your Mother?" Our Lady of Guadalupe



I'm going to be blogging about some Marian topics and thought I'd start with some reflections on Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is the story; reflections will follow.

Juan Diego was making his long trip to Mass on the cold morning of December 9, 1531. At that time in his area it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Suddenly he heard some strains of beautiful music. Looking up to see where it came from, Juan found himself at the top of Tepayec Hill, near Mexico City. He was startled to see a beautiful young woman there. She looked like a morena, that is, one of his own people. In his own language, Nahuatl, she called him by name, using a nickname that showed great affection: “Juanito,” she said, “Juan Dieguito, where are you going?”

Hardly knowing what to make of it all, Juan’s words tumbled out, “I am on my way to Mass.” As if to answer his unspoken question, the lady continued, “Know and understand, dearest of my children, that I am the ever-holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life, Mother of the Creator of heaven and earth.”



Mary, the Mother of God? Juan thought. How is it possible that she should come to me? Who am I? I am no one of importance! Despite his own estimation of himself, the Virgin Mary entrusted him with a great task. She told Juan that she wanted a church to be built there on that spot. Why? Mary herself told him that she wanted to “show forth all my love, compassion, assistance, and defense because I am your loving Mother: yours, and all who are with you, and of all who live in this land, and of all who love me, call to me, and trust in me. I will hear their cries and will give remedy to their sorrows and sufferings.”

Then the beautiful Lady told Juan to bring her message to the bishop. Juan did as she asked. But the bishop, Juan de Zumárraga, was skeptical that the Blessed Virgin Mary had really appeared to the humble man before him. Though he spoke kindly to Juan Diego, he was not convinced.
Downhearted, Juan Diego left the bishop’s residence. He again saw the Lady when he passed by Tepayac and was dismayed to report he had not succeeded.
But the Lady, not to be daunted, repeated her commission. Juan Diego had to go back to the bishop. So he did. After being made to wait a long time, he was finally allowed to see the bishop again, who asked Juan to bring him back some sign so that he could know for certain that the Blessed Virgin Mary had really appeared to him. So Juan went back home, wondering where this would all lead.
In the meantime, however, his uncle had fallen sick. Juan was in a hurry to go and get a priest to bring him the sacraments, so he tried to avoid seeing the Lady. He took a detour. But the Lady appeared to him anyway. Calling him “my little son,” she asked him where he was going. When he told her, the Lady reassured him that his uncle would recover. With a look of great love, Mary smiled at him and gently chided him for his doubts, “"Do not let anything afflict you, and do not be afraid of any illness, or accident, or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Do you need anything else?"
After those comforting words, Mary told Juan to gather the flowers he would find at the top of the hill and bring them to her. Flowers in December? he wondered, but he obediently did as she asked. When he arrived at the top of the hill, he couldn’t believe what he saw: beautiful Castilian roses at the peak of their bloom! He gathered as many as he could hold and brought them to the Lady, who lovingly arranged them in his tilma. She then told him to bring them to the bishop.
When he returned to the bishop’s residence, he again had to wait but finally was able to meet the bishop. When Juan opened his cloak and the beautiful roses spilled out, the bishop and others in the room were astounded at what they saw: an image of the Lady imprinted on Juan’s tilma. This image, of course, is the amazing icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Mexico and loving Mother of all people.

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