“I am the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live. It is my ardent desire that a church be erected here so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection to all who inhabit this land and to those others who love me, that they might call upon and confide in me.” – Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, Office of Readings
“[The holy Virgin] exhorts us to make Christ the center and summit of our whole Christian life. She remains hidden, with supreme humility, so that the image of her Son might appear to humanity with all its incomparable brightness.” – Pope Paul VI, Office of Readings
When Mary appeared to Juan Diego in December of 1531, the situation in Mexico City was marked by the violence of human sacrifice on the one hand and the grave abuses of Native Americans by the Spanish conquistadors on the other.
In the midst of this darkness, Juan Diego, a recent convert evangelized by Franciscan Friars, was met with a great light – “the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live” – on his way to post-baptismal instruction in the faith. For all those who were suffering, the Virgin’s message was clear: build a church here “so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection.”
Notice how Mary promised to bestow her love, compassion, help and protection? She desired that a church be erected where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass could be offered and where people could receive the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – “the center and summit of our whole Christian life.” Here we can see that heart of Mary is inseparable from the heart of her son, Jesus. The way that she cares for her children is by pointing them to the Lord.
From the time of the apparitions in 1531 until 1948, it is estimated that some 9 million Native Americans were baptized and received into the Catholic faith. It is no wonder that both St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI hailed Mary as the “Star of Evangelization.”
Let us continually look to Mary during Advent, asking her to draw us closer to Jesus. Let us also imitate her humility as we share the love of God with others “so that the image of her Son might appear to humanity with all its incomparable brightness.”