Our Lady of Guadalupe Helps Us to Receive God’s Word – by Dr. Francisco Castillo

In the liturgical calendar, the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated as a solemnity in Mexico, South and Central America and many other countries. This celebration is of great importance because Our Lady of Guadalupe, or La Morenita, meaning “little dark one,” as she is affectionately called, has allowed many indigenous peoples to identify with her and her message. The Church recognizes that in 1531, Mary appeared to Juan Diego dressed as an Aztec princess, with dark hair and olive skin. In communicating her appearance, thus, she restored dignity to the Aztec people of Mexico after they had suffered and endured many years of inhumane European colonization.

The image of the Virgin Mary surrounded with Aztec symbols, her appearance in that historical context, and the fact that she approached Saint Juan Diego in his native indigenous language, clearly express her desire to communicate God’s love and concern for those who were suffering. A reflection on this significant event in the life of faith of the people of Mexico is offered in RCL Benziger’s bilingual basal program, Sean mis discípulos Catechist Guide for Grade 4. Catechists are asked to reflect with their students on the significance of Mary’s choice of seeking Juan Diego, a poor indigenous man in the hills of the Mexican countryside, and the effect this had on the reception of the Christian faith among the natives of Mexico and Central America.

Concerns of racial and ethnic identity are significant in the process of communicating any kind of message. Transmitting information effectively means first establishing and building stable and permanent relationships. In this sense, in XVI Century Mexico, Mary was following God’s example of communicating the message of salvation to the world. God’s desire has always been to bring humanity back to full communion with him and one another. From the moment that sin entered the world and the human race turned its back on God, God has not ceased to stretch his hand toward us. In an attempt to establish a lasting and stable relationship, the Covenant, God has sent his people prophets to remind us of his love and to call us back to communion with him. Yet, humanity has historically rejected that call, as if God’s message was being lost or misunderstood.

The Incarnation of Christ radically changed this. Through the Mystery of the Incarnation, God becomes man, a human being who walks the earth and speaks our language. In the letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (4:4-6).

The celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which falls within the Holy Season of Advent, proves to be a perfect opportunity for us to reflect on Mary’s role in bringing forth God’s Word to the world. Just like Mary prepared for the birth of her child two thousand years ago, she also prepared the peoples of the Americas in the New World to welcome and receive God’s Word.

Francisco Castillo is the Senior Editor, Multicultural Specialist for RCL Benziger.

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