Monday, December 12, 2011

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

(Zechariah 2:14-17; Luke 1:39-47)

On the wall of a diocesan pastoral center hangs a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The other day an end table with a dish of roses was discreetly placed beneath that image. The table still may have impeded passage but nevertheless seemed quite appropriate during the novena of today’s feast. The roses it bears, we should understand, illustrate in part the significance of Guadalupe.

Roses growing abundantly out of season comprised the sign that corroborated Juan Diego’s story of having encountered the Mother of God. The rose itself, often considered the epitome of floral beauty, ably represents the Virgin. However, the roses’ symbolic value metamorphosed into the actual image of the Virgin as they fell from the Indian’s shirt. It is that image which has stirred the most discussion about the appearances.

Many characteristics of the image deserve commentary – the blocked out son, the color of the mantle and inner garment, the down-bent eyes reflecting the presence of Juan Diego. One such characteristic corresponds well with the gospel today in which Mary, having conceived by the Holy Spirit, visits her cousin Elizabeth. The black cord tied around the Virgin’s bosom indicates that she is carrying within her the Son of God whom she will present to the world with a critical message. In the gospel she will tell Elizabeth that God has lifted up the lowly while dismissing the arrogant. In Mexico she announces to both Indian and European – that is, to everyone -- that we must come together to honor God by creating a society based on human dignity.

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