Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the memorial of Saint Juan Diego, who Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to at the Hill of Tepeyac, near present day Mexico City. We will celebrate this great feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe next Tuesday, but for now it would be helpful to recall what Saint Juan Diego said to Our Lady. In her first appearance to Juan Diego, she asked him to go to Bishop Zumarraga and request that a church be built on Tepeyac Hill. He delivered this message to the Bishop who was reasonably skeptical, and so simply dismissed Juan Diego. One can imagine the great disappointment that the humble and poor man experienced when he was denied. When he returned to the hill, and Mary appeared to him again, he made a plea to her:

I beg you, my Lady, Queen, my Beloved Maiden, to have one of the nobles who are held in esteem, one who is known, respected, honored, (have him) carry, take your dear breath, your dear word, so that he will be believed.

Juan Diego wanted so badly to do Mary’s will, but he felt like he was incapable of such an awesome task. Juan Diego thought he wasn’t enough. That he was too poor, too humble, too unimportant. But Mary reassures him:

I have no lack of servants, of messengers, to whom I can give the task of carrying my breath, my word, so that they carry out my will. But it is very necessary that you personally go and plead…

Mary tells him that he is enough. That even a poor and weak man like him can do the will of God. He obeys and after some persistence and additional assistance from Mary, he is finally able to convince Bishop Zumarraga of Our Lady’s appearance.

We hear echoes of this theme in today’s readings. The prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst” (Is 30:20). Likewise, today’s Psalm says that “The Lord sustains the lowly” (Ps 147:7). The Lord will provide for us even if we believe ourselves insufficient or unqualified messengers of his love. Why is that? Why would the Lord entrust Saint Juan Diego with such an important message? Why does he entrust us with his message of salvation for our families and coworkers? It is because God longs for more for his people. It is because God loves us. In today’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus had pity on the crowds, “because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 10:36).

We live in a world that needs a shepherd. A world that needs a savior. Jesus calls us to be “laborers for his harvest” because “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few” (Mt 10:37-28) This seems like a tall task, but we must recall that the Lord will provide for us. For evidence of God’s faithfulness, we need look no further than Saint Juan Diego, who was able to carry out God’s mission in a very special way. Thanks to Saint Juan Diego’s openness to Our Lady and God’s work, today Tepeyac Hill is the 3rd most visited sacred site in the world, with over 20 Million pilgrims each year. Saint Juan Diego shows us that even in our poverty and our weakness, we can be God’s messengers to the world.

Saint Juan Diego, Pray for us.

Noah is a seminarian for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. He received his Bachelors degree in finance and economics from Grand Valley State University. He has a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and his favorite Saint is St. John Paul II.