A great sign appeared!
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a; 10ab - Lk 1:39-37
“Blessed are you among women”
The numbers continue to increase. Domestic violence is up. Families and marriages are breaking under the pressure of confinement and quarantine. Depression, especially in our youth, is rising. Unemployment is at an all-time high. The number of infections surge as well as the number of deaths. Yet, the greatest tragedy of this global pandemic may not be the millions of deaths, which in itself is terrible, but rather, the millions of people still living in this world without faith, hope, and love. Advent is exactly what our world needs today! It is in this context of the season of Advent, which is a time of hope, that we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The book of Revelation, with its poetic and symbolic images, presents us with the existential and spiritual struggle between good and evil; light and darkness and life and death. This apocalyptic literature can also be found in many other books of the Bible. The prophets and evangelists proclaimed it, they lived it, and they also died for it! Many of these writings were also written in times of persecution which caused great distress, anguish, and despair. And yet, the message we find in this type of literature is consistent and clear, hope in the Lord. This message of hope, however, can get lost due to the apocalyptic language and images. For instance, in today’s first reading, we can only focus on the beautiful image of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and her head crowned with twelve stars (Rev 12:1). Beautiful image indeed! Yet, we could lose sight of the most important part, which is that the woman was with child. We could imagine this apocalyptic image of the red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems (Rev 12:3) and yet lose sight of the fact that this child was caught up to God and his throne. We might be so distracted with these images that we do not hear the loud voice from heaven, saying, “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.” (Rev 12:10)
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe captured in the tilma of St. Juan Diego was and continues to be a great sign of hope that appeared in our world. It brought hope in times of persecution which caused great distress, anguish and despair to the most marginalized people of Mexico. And just like the apocalyptic language above, we can get lost in the images and interpretations of this wonderful image of hope. Since its appearance among us, many people have tried to discover the true nature of the image. They have tried to interpret the longevity of the vibrant colors used, the formation of the stars on her mantle and the human images reflected in her eyes. And yet, as amazing and astonishing as all that can be, it is not the most important message of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The most important part; the central part of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is in fact found at the very center. Her jubilant stance and radiance is because she is with child. The importance and significance of this great sign that appeared, is the mystery of the Incarnation. This is the central message of hope to the world. She is radiant as the sun because she is Mother and is fully alive with Life itself. Using the words of St. John Eudes, “We must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus loves Mary. A man is no true Christian if he has no devotion to the Mother of Jesus Christ and of all Christians.”
In the gospel today, we hear of Mary setting out in haste to bring joy and hope to the world. The encounter with Jesus and Mary brought Elizabeth and her child joy and hope. The encounter with Jesus and Mary has also brought joy and hope to the people of Mexico in the 16th century. Our world is in desperate need to encounter Jesus and Mary! On this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may we too find the loving embrace of our Mother who runs towards us to bring us hope and joy. She shares with us her source of joy and hope which is her Son Jesus. May the awe and wonder we encounter of the loving embrace of Our Lady of Guadalupe allow us to proclaim, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”
Viva Cristo Rey! Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
O Mother of Jesus, show me that you arethe Mother of Jesus by forming Him and making Him live in my soul! O Mother of Love, love your Son for me!
(St. John Eudes)
Fr. Eleuterio Mireles Jr, CJM