Preach the Message? Be the Message!
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas!
Our confreres working in Mexican communities se madrugaron today, that is, they woke up very early this morning to open their churches by 4:00 or 5:00 AM for the Mañanitas, the morning songs of praise to Mary. Thus began the celebration of this feast which is a celebration that unites all believers, because it’s an expression of deep faith, love and devotion. Today, I invite you to reflect on the miraculous image and the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I ask you to focus with a Vincentian eye on three points.
He has sent me to bring the Good News to the poor. Our Vincentian motto guides and animates us. It is a touchstone against which we measure our lives and ministries as Vincentians. Yet this motto is not uniquely ours. It belongs to the Church; and in the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we see our motto being lived out by the Virgin Mary herself, a full fifty years before the birth of Vincent de Paul. The image tells the story. The ribbon tied high above her waist reveals that she is with child, while the flower over her womb and the cross below her neck symbolize the new life to be given to us in Jesus. Mary, as she appeared to Juan Diego, is bringing Christ to the peoples of the Americas, and how the faithful have responded!
“I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection.” Mary’s words to Juan Diego resonate in our Vincentian hearts. It is not just to preach the message, but to be the message. Our service of the poor, done with love, brings the Gospel to life in ourselves and in those we serve.
La Morenita (the Indigenous Maiden). Vincent instructed us to be with the poor and to become one with the poor. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe exemplifies that. She appears to Juan Diego as an indigenous maiden. Her features and her brown skin gently convey a powerful message: I am with you, I am one of you. Pope Francis in his Chrism Mass homily called us to “be shepherds who smell like your sheep.” The Blessed Virgin Mary again offers us an example of solidarity with the poor, an example of meekness and humility.
Happy Feast Day!