Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
My Spanish is limited and somewhat stilted.
But in honor of the Mexican heritage of many Catholics in the United States,
in honor of the Mexican and/or South American heritage of some parishioners here at St. Agnes,
I use the mother tongue associated with today’s feast: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Unfortunately, cultural and ethnic differences tend to separate and divide people:
language, skin color, rituals, when they are unfamiliar,
tend to stir up suspicion and stereotypes and mistrust.
In 16th century Mexico, the Indian population had been reduced to a state of subservience.
For this native people, in their hearts, the future seemed hopeless.
It was during this time that the Blessed Virgin Mary came to Juan Diego,
a poor Indian of humble faith.
She came to him as a beautiful lady, an Indian woman, one of Juan Diego’s own people.
Her appearance to him was cosmic: she stood on the crescent moon, surrounded by rays of the sun;
her mantle was covered with stars.
Her image was miraculously imprinted on Juan Diego’s tilma, his poncho.
500 years later, in a cathedral built at the place of Mary’s appearance,
Juan Diego’s tilma, which has not undergone any corruption, is reverently displayed and venerated.
In 2009, 6.1 million pilgrims visited the Basilica of Guadalupe.
It is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world.
The cosmic imagery of Our Lady of Guadalupe
indicates a great power to create new life for a suffering people.
Today, the Mexican people, as a nation, cannot explain their existence without her.
She is part of their national identity. For them, Mary is honored and loved as a mother of the poor.
This is one of the contributions the Mexican people and other Indian people of South America make,
as they immigrate to the United States.
Their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe draws the attention of the Catholic Church in our country
to the poor, to its mission to the poor.
It helps us remember, and fosters a sense of, our common humanity and our oneness in faith.
We are all part of the human family for which her son, Jesus Christ,
lived, suffered, died and entered into risen life.
By contemplating this apparition of Mary, by looking at and pondering this amazing image,
we can grow in our sensitivity to the suffering of the of others;
we can grow in our understanding of the needs and sorrows of people who are oppressed.
We can be awakened to God’s compassionate love for the poor.
We are inspired to stand in solidarity with people who experience great misfortune.
As we draw close to the Feast of the Nativity, to Christmas,
we remember that at the Council of Ephesus in the year 431AD,
Mary was officially declared to be Theotokos… the “god-bearer”.
We translate this as “Mother of God”.
Our prayer today: “O Lord, in an age of disbelief, in an age wheen human dignity is assaulted and violated, renew our vision of a common humanity. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe help us to grow in our love and concern for our brothers and sisters who have been dehumanized, and as a result, suffer great misery. May the presence of Your spirit in our hearts fortify our efforts to bring hope and new life to those who have become hopeless. Amen!”
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.