Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Guadalupe Touches People One by One

Our Lady of Guadalupe, seen from walkway behind the main altar.
On this beautiful day of celebration for all the peoples of America and for the whole world, we rejoice in the very special companionship that Jesus has shared with us. That companionship was dramatically reaffirmed nearly 500 years ago, in the gift that the "little Mother" gave to a poor indigenous man in Mexico.

To put it another way, on December 12, 1531, the Virgin Mary took the world's first "selfie," which she shared with Juan Diego, and all the rest of us. But the pictures we take are only shadows compared to this uniquely vivid, mysterious, enduring, scientifically inexplicable image.

I have made three pilgrimages to the Basilica in Mexico City that holds the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Though it's great to have high resolution color photographs these days, no secondary picture can reproduce the original in all its facets. The image seems to have a vitality, powerful yet gentle; a presence that a superficial observer can easily ignore, but that reaches out in a personal way to those who spend time with her with open hearts. Of course, like any good mother, Mary is able pick up her children even when they are distracted, if she has something for them that they really need.   .

Everyone's experience with her there is different and personal; most of the time it's not something dramatic. Real motherhood is mostly an ordinary thing, an everyday thing. It is always a loving thing, a gift of love that shapes the lives of those who receive it. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe has remained with us through the past five centuries, through the whole unfolding of modern history. Her image is connected with various peoples, events, and worthy causes. But the reason she came, and continues to stay in this place by means of this unique "supernatural media event," because she wants to touch people one by one, to draw us into her tenderness.

She wants us to give her our burdens and sorrows and to listen to her so as to discover in a new way that each of us is loved, personally, intimately, by her Son Jesus.

Each one of us matters. Each one of us has a purpose.

Above all, each one of us is the child of a good God who will not fail us in time of need.

Our Merciful Mother gives us Jesus her Son and our brother. And she knows and cherishes each of us as his brothers and sisters, as her own children, and she attends us with great compassion throughout our lives.

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, pray for us. .

For many years this print of the image has presided over our dining room table

So much symbolism, but also much that is intimate and personal. When I posted this on Instagram today, it appeared on my page right next to my previous post, which was a picture of a young woman who also has her hands folded and her head bowed, full of gratitude, who also shared herself with others and even said (in the accompanying text) "I feel like a mother to you." Obviously this is a coincidence, and not much of a coincidence at that. For all that, I didn't plan it, and it surprised and struck me personally. Behind the big theological term "spiritual maternity" there is a great reality which some are called to live in special ways. And they can share in the pattern of Mary's maternal solicitude for us even if they don't have explicit knowledge of the full scope of it. Why not? Really, nothing is a "coincidence" in God's good providence. God is good, all the time. (Btw: That same picture is directly below this blog post.)