"Where would Jesus' humble mother appear in our day?"
This week, many Christians celebrate Mary, but in a particular representation— Our Lady of Guadalupe. We will celebrate her at St. John's on Sunday because she is not only an image of our Lord's mother, but an icon of how God meets us where we are, speaks to us in a language we can understand, and challenges our assumptions.
You may know the story of how a Mexican Indian named Juan Diego received a vision of Mary. The importance of this visitation is not simply in her appearing, but in her appearance. Mary came to Juan Diego as an Aztec woman who speaks to him in his own language and calls him "my son." Mary, who brings forth the author of the new creation, Jesus our savior, lets this poor dispossessed man know that he is somebody of value. He too, not just the powerful Spanish overlords, have a place in God's family. They too have dignity. They too are sons and daughters of God. Her son Jesus also must be related to Juan Diego as he is to all humankind— Juan Diego is her son.
But the vision is not accepted at first by those in power. How can this peasant be the object of God's love and the one who carries the Gospel message? The Spanish Bishop needs his assumptions challenged. So do we. Where do we think God will show up? Where would Jesus' humble mother appear in our day? Who do we discount as unworthy? These are questions for us this Advent.
Finally, in our day, when we look across the border to all those who gather there to seek asylum from many countries, poor and dispossessed, our Blessed Lady of Guadalupe, mother of refugees, comes with her comfort for her sons and daughters. She holds them under the mantle of her protection even as the powerful in our country seek to build walls to keep them out. But we are children of a new creation, sibling of Juan Diego, and especially of Jesus, who seeks to tear down walls and build bridges. Let us also work to establish God's justice and love with our brothers and sisters, Jesus' brothers and sisters, Mary's sons and daughters— “For God has come to be born among us in the flesh generously to lavish his great mercy on the whole wide world."