by Arturo Chavez
“Blessed is she who trusted that God’s words to her would be fulfilled…” (Lk 1:45)
Today we celebrate one of the holiest days of the year for Americans throughout North, Central, and South America. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the ONE Church in America, is a story of how God acted in a people’s history to bring light in a time of great darkness. The earliest account of the Guadalupe story states that “when it was night,” a great sign appeared in this part of the world: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet” (Revelation 12:1).
This gentle, pregnant woman came with a message of hope, a vision of unity from the God of “What is Near and Together.” Speaking to the powerful through a humble and wise Indian man, she offered all her children the opportunity to build together a Church where the homeless are welcomed, the sorrowful comforted, the sick healed, and the voiceless empowered. The imprint of her lovely brown face on the strands of Juan Diego’s garment still calls to the Church in America to weave together the many races and cultural groups of the continent into a “new creation.”
The message of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the same one she sang over two thousand years ago in her beautiful Magnificat. “God,” she says, “has looked upon my lowliness and from this day all generations shall call me blessed!” (Luke 1:48). Mary, the poor, young woman from Nazareth, knew what it meant to count for nothing in this world. She, like Juan Diego, lived her earthly life as a member of a conquered people living under occupation. Yet even in the face of a seemingly hopeless reality, Mary could envision a new reality — God’s Reign dawning upon the world from inside her womb.
This reign, Mary proclaimed, will be a complete revolution — not of swords and violence — a total change in the social order as we know it now. The poor will be lifted up and partake in a sumptuous banquet, while those who are rich in their greed and pride will fall on their faces and go away empty. This is not the cruel payback of an angry god; rather, it is a compassionate way of bringing empowerment and healing to the disinherited, and an opportunity for conversion for those who will learn in no other way.
Our Lady’s temple is yet to be built. Can we begin to envision it? Design the plan for it? Provide the labor for it?
How can we offer ourselves — in the words of St. Paul — “as living stones” for the creation of the ONE Church in America and in the world?
* This reflection is from Awakening the Prophet Within: Reflections for Advent 2006, by Dr. Arturo Chavez. Dr. Chavez is the President of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio and former National Council member of Pax Christi USA. For reflections for every day of Advent and the holy days of the Christmas season, you can purchase and download an e-reader version of The Promise of Light: Reflections for Advent 2015 by clicking here.