Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
People will be unusually happy when 2020 passes into history. The pandemic has brought on such misery this year that we want it to end as soon as possible. Of course, the pandemic won’t be resolved with a new calendar. Nevertheless, the new year will bring a fortified hope of a return to normalcy. All the inconvenience, the worry, and the death toll of the Covid pandemic can help us appreciate the situation in Mexico when the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared.
People may think that Spanish brutality epitomized the hardship to indigenous Americans. The conquistadors’ swords and muskets caused much suffering among the native population. However, the diseases which they brought unwittingly wreaked much more extensive havoc. It is estimated that when Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico there were twenty-five million indigenous Americans. Fifty years later smallpox and other infectious diseases left only three million people. During this catastrophe, the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego.
From the beginning, the Virgin’s message was of maternal affection and protection. “I am your mother,” she told the indigenous peasant, Juan Diego. Her mission was to relieve the suffering of the people by imparting the Christian faith that proclaims God’s mercy. As part of that relief, she called the European colonists from the city to the surrounding area. There they might address the needs of the people. In today’s gospel we see Mary on a similar mission of mercy. Hearing from God that her relative Elizabeth was with child, Mary rushes to assist her. So close to her son Jesus, who is also the Son of God, Mary will help us through the pandemic. Praying to her, we can be assured of receiving God’s mercy.