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The Challenge of Our Lady of Guadalupe

by Bishop Robert BarronDecember 11, 20150 Comments

The following text is a homily Bishop Barron preached for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A Spanish version is also included below.


“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” - Revelation 12:1 

How wonderful that Our Lady of Guadalupe appears as a pregnant woman clothed in the sun! In the book of Revelation, Mary is described in just this manner (Rev 12:1). But we should not approach this symbolism in a superficial or merely sentimental way. The woman clothed in the sun and with the moon at her feet is portrayed in Revelation precisely as a warrior. Confronting her is a terrible dragon intent upon devouring her child as soon as it is born. Through God’s grace, the child is in fact delivered from danger, but the dragon is furious, sending a torrent of water from its mouth to sweep the mother and child away. In the wake of the child’s birth, moreover, a war breaks out in heaven between the dragon and Michael and his angels. 

The Lady of Tepeyac is a warrior as well. To Juan Diego she said, “I am the ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God.” In so saying, she was actively de-throning and de-legitimizing any false claimant to that title. Standing in front of the sun and upon the moon, with the stars of heaven arrayed on her cloak, the Lady was showing her superiority to the cosmic elements worshipped by the Aztecs. The gods in question were blood-thirsty divinities, sanctioning imperialistic war and demanding human sacrifice. Mary announced herself as the mother of a God who demanded no violence, and who instead took upon himself, as an act of love, all of the violence of the world. She was thereby effectively calling out the false gods in the name of the true God. 

To be clear, in condemning the gods worshipped by the Aztecs I am by no means exonerating the Spaniards, who committed numerous atrocities and visited tremendous suffering upon the native peoples of the New World. Read the impassioned writings of the Dominican Friar Bartolomé de Las Casas for the terrible details. Far too rare were Spaniards who were actually faithful to the God whom Christianity authentically proclaimed. 

What followed the apparition at Tepeyac is, of course, one of the most astounding chapters in the history of Christian evangelism. Though Franciscan missionaries had been laboring in Mexico for twenty years, they had made little progress. But within ten years of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, practically the entire Mexican people, nine million strong, converted to Christianity. La Morena had proved a more effective evangelist than Peter, Paul, St. Patrick, and St. Francis Xavier combined! And with that great national conversion, human sacrifice came to an end. She had done battle with fallen spirits and had won a culture-changing victory for the God of love.

The challenge for us who honor her today is to join the same fight. We do not sufficiently engage this great feast if we simply wonder at a marvelous event from long ago. We must announce to our culture today the truth of the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of non-violence and forgiving love. And we ought, like La Morena, to be bearers of Jesus to a world that needs him more than ever.

 

 


 

 

Que maravilloso que Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe se aparezca como una joven embarazada, vestida con el sol. El libro del Apocalipsis describe a Maria precisamente de esta manera. Pero no deberiamos interpretar ese simbolismo de un modo sentimental o superficial. La mujer vestida de sol y con la luna a sus pies es retratada en el Apocalipsis exactamente como una guerrera. Frenta a ella se encuentra un dragon terrible que tiene la intencion de devorar a su nino tan pronto como nasca. A traves de la gracia de Dios, el nino es de hecho liberado del peligro, pero el dragon esta furioso y lanza un torrente de agua por la boca para destruir a la madre y al nino. A raiz del nacimiento del nino, estalla una Guerra en el cielo enfrentando al dragon contra Miguel y sus angeles. 

La Senora de Tepeyac es tambien una guerrera. Ella le dijo a Juan Diego “Soy la siempre Virgen Maria, Madre de Dios verdadero.” Al decir esto, estaba quitando legitimidad y bajando del trono a cualquiera que reclamara falsamente ese titulo. De pie delante del sol y sobre la luna, con las estrellas del cielo dispuestas en su capa, La Senora estaba mostrando su superioridad sobre los elementos cosmicos adorados por los Aztecas. Los dioses en cuestion eran sanguinarios, sancionando la Guerra imperialista y exigiendo sacrificios humanos. Maria se anuncio a si misma como madre de un Dios que no require nada de violencia y que en cambio toma sobre si mismo en un acto de amor toda la violencia del mundo. Fue por lo tanto un reto a los dioses falsos en el nombre de Dios verdadero. 

Quiero ser muy claro acerca de algo. Al condenar la adoracion de dioses falsos por los Aztecas, no estoy de ninguna manera exonerando a los Espanoles que cometieron atrocidades numerosas e infligieron terrible sufrimiento a los pueblos nativos del Nuevo mundo. Basta leer los escitos appasionados del padre dominicano Bartolome da las Casas para enterarnos de los terribles detalles. Fueron excepcion los Espanoles que eran realmente fieles al Dios proclamado autenticamente por el cristianismo. 

Lo que siguio a la apparicion en el Tepeyac es, por supuesto, uno de los capitulos mas estupendos de la historia de la evangelizacion Cristiana. Aunque los missioneros franciscanos habian estado trabajando en Mexico desde hacia ya veinte anos, se habia hecho poco progreso. Pero despues de solo diez anos de la apparicion de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, practicamente la totalidad del pueblo mexicano—nueve milliones de personas—se convertieron al cristianismo. La Morena habia demostrado ser una evangelista mas eficaz que la combinacion de San Pedro, San Pablo, San Patricio, y San Francisco Javier. Y con esa gran conversion nacional, el sacrificio humano llego a su fin. Ella habia luchado contra los espiritus caidos y habia ganado una Victoria que cambio la cultura a favor del Dios del amor.

El desafio para nosotros que la honramos hoy es unirnos a la misma lucha. Que no nos baste festejar este dia como si estos fuesen eventos de un pasado lejano. Debemos annunciar a nuestra cultura de hoy la verdad sobre el Dios de Israel, el Dios de Jesucristo, el Dios de  la no-violencia y del amor que perdona. Y deberiamos, como la Morena, ser portadores de Jesus a un mundo que lo necessita mas que nunca.