“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18 (NRSV)
Close to this day in 1531, ten years after the Spanish had overthrown the Aztec empire and imposed foreign rule and religion, an Indigenous man whose Spanish name was Juan Diego, was on his way to Mass one morning when he had a vision. The vision repeated itself two more times, and in each one, the Virgin Mary, speaking tenderly in his own tongue, sent him to the Spanish bishop to ask for a shrine to her honor on the top of Mt. Tepeyac, that had been sacred to the goddess of hearth and fertility in Aztec times. Finally, after a miracle of roses in December and an image on a garment, the Bishop’s heart is converted, and on this day, December 12th, the shrine is ordered. The vision has put the conquered and oppressed Indian in charge in a very different kind of conquest. It is the beginning of the emergence of a new kind of spirituality, one that blends aspects of the ancient ways with those of the new conquerors. Juan Diego is saved.
As I watch what is happening in the world today, I see the same kind of very different conquest going on. I see increasing numbers of commercials featuring people of color. I hear more confident use of languages other than English in the streets. Some of the commercials merely put people of color in positions normally occupied by whites. Some of them reflect cultural values and practices that are decidedly not white. Guadalupe reminds me that these changes can be redemptive if I will look for them. This is what is saving me this Advent.
Loving God, remind us that social changes do not change your love for all your children. Give us the strength to love as you love, each for the people they are, and all for the rainbow colors of culture that they create as they refract your image in the world. Show us our place in this emerging human family, and we will take it up, grateful for the company of those who differ from us most, through Jesus Christ your Son, who by the power of the Holy Spirit, taught us what your love looks like. Amen.
-Fr. Paul Moore