Reflection from the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is said that Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego starting December 9, requesting that a church be built. The bishop who was petitioned requested a miraculous sign before approving a church. Mary promised that she would deliver the sign on December 11. You might have noticed by now that we are celebrating this feast on December 12. Turns out Juan Diego got distracted.
You can find the apparition story recounted all over the internet, but I want to focus on how Juan Diego’s December 11 can be just like our lives. On December 11, Diego did not see Mary, because he avoided the opportunity to encounter her on the road. He had good reason of course, his uncle was sick. We can do the same thing with the Lord.
We can spend days, weeks, months, or even years in close proximity to the Lord and regularly encountering Christ, but then our December 11 arrives. Something comes up that interrupts our spiritual routine. It is something that, in its importance and sense of urgency, can compete with and even overshadow God.
Now, I’m not proposing some extreme where pious actions stop us from caring for one another. Instead, I’m concerned that we become so overwhelmed in the cares of this life that we don’t invite God into the space. One example would be a thought like this, “I really can’t pray now, there is just too much happening in my life.” Yes, maybe we can’t sit and pray a rosary, but those times are the best times to cry out, “God where are you?” (a very honest prayer, by the way).
This is where we can learn from Elizabeth and Mary in today’s gospel. Mary has just found out she is pregnant, outside of marriage, with the Savior. She is likely overwhelmed, not just by pregnancy, but how does she explain to Joseph that “It’s ok, He’s God’s kid.” Not to mention, parents are panicked enough trying not to screw up their own kids, much less God’s! Elizabeth on the other hand would certainly be called a “high-risk” pregnancy and her husband has been struck dumb, so I’m sure she wasn’t hearing too many words of encouragement. But upon seeing one another, they lift up praise to God. Their faith helped them embrace God, not avoid Him when life got crazy.
On this December 12, may we remember the Father’s great love for us and that we have been given such a Savior and share such a mother. May we draw near to the Lord when life is crazy instead of pushing away from Him. And may we remember that Juan Diego’s avoidance on the 11th did not mean he was forsaken on the 12th, for our God is rich in mercy.