Monday, December 12, 2011

Christ Does Not Annihilate Us: Homily for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate the apparition of our Blessed Mother to St. Juan Diego. We know the famous story whereby Juan Diego goes in front of the bishop carrying flowers from the apparition in his cloak, and when he dumps them on the floor in front of the bishop, emblazoned on his cloak is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Scientists have poked and prodded and have found no other explanation for the cloak beyond the idea that it is miraculous.

What I'd like to focus on today is the idea that the Blessed Mother appears to Juan Diego with the characteristics of the local people - skin tone, eyes, dress, etc. I think that is important. Our Lady has appeared in countless apparitions around the world, some much more famous than others, but all of them unique. In all of these visions, Our Lady manifests herself as one of the locals. This is very important for us because it shows us that Our Blessed Mother, like Her Son, does not annihilate our culture when we take them into our cultural experience. We do not give up our dances, our dress, our patriotic days (as long as they are just), our songs, our friends, our foods, our country. Many people spread fear about God (or the Church) - "They're like a cult - beware and steer clear - they'll make you drink the kool-aid!" Nothing could be further from the truth! God does not ask us to stop being Americans or Poles or Mexicans or Indians etc. God elevates our culture when we allow Him to infuse it, he does not destroy.

Just as God, Mary, Jesus, and His Church do not destroy our culture, they do not destroy us as individuals either. Neither God, the Blessed Mother or the Church do violence to us - even though secretly that is our fear - "If I give my life to Christ I will lose my own personal identity, I will be weird, I will no longer be myself anymore!" But nothing could be further from the Truth!

If Christ and His Church are the yeast and our society is the wheat, we do not lose our "wheatness" by allowing ourselves to be infused by the yeast.

As a society, but first as individuals, we need to let God in the door. Our Lady of Guadalupe...pray for us!

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