December 12--Our Lady of Guadalupe
God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear and immediately acted to call it back with love. God invited it by grace, preserved it by love, and embraced it with compassion.
--Peter Chrysologus, 5th century
The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of human beings who, united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, press onwards toward the kingdom of the Father and are bearers of a message of salvation intended for all. That is why Christians cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history.
--Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World
"Where are you going?" asks Mary of Juan Diego. He is stopped in his tracks. He leaves his "important" plans and becomes her messenger: Build a church where the cries of the poor and the oppressed will be heard. The bishop hears these gospel-laden words with shock and disbelief. Signs, tangible signs, to know if this is true: That is his demand. But the words that the Indian brings are the answer. The church must turn its institutional attention from its needs to listen to the solitary voice of one poor man. It is a voice caught up in cultural traditions, old Indian ways, unpurified beliefs. Juan Diego's nervous intensity comes not from self-interest but from the faith that his voice and prayer have been heard by God. The words he speaks are the answer to his prayers.
What Mary has asked of the bishop is not meant to cause a division among the servants of the Lord. It is not a condemnation of strategies or theologies. Rather, it is a word of direction to move from the status quo operations of the day and to build up a place where the prayers, the cries, the heartbreak of people can be heard. The place becomes symbolic of the fact that a mestizo church emerges from these birth sufferings of a conquered people. The temple is symbolic of the age-old, faithful word of God to be with the people.
Guadalupe's significance is both word and symbol. She provides the answers to the prayers of her faithful people: "God is with you!" Her very appearance, as of the poor, aligns her with them. Guadalupe's proclamation can be seen as God's option for the poor.
"Where are you going?" echoes in the life of God's poor to this present day.
They've come to sing in your honor
from the desert and the forest.
From valleys deep in the mountains;
they make a joyful chorus.
They've brought their drums and their dances,
ancient ways their parents taught them;
Their village saints and their banners,
ev'ry group mad sure they brought them.
O Mother dark and lovely
hear the poor who come with their song;
Lead them into Jesus' kingdom
where they truly do belong.
From Vera Cruz and Nogales,
from old Taxco with its fountains,
and Durango in the mountains;
The come from humid Tampico,
Matamoros near the river,
From the ranchos deep in Sonora
where the cottonwoods still quiver.
They dance to show they love you,
out of faith and deep emotion,
They offer flowers and candles
as a sign of their devotion.
The children run and are laughing
all are sure that you still love them,
While parents weep out of gladness,
for you picture's there above them.
--Willard F. Jabusch