Advent Devotion 16

Monday Dec. 12, 2022

Today is the most important day of the year at the most visited Catholic shrine in the world. This is the saint day for the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico and one of the most venerated Marys in Catholicism. The story involves the appearance of Mary to the indigenous peasant Juan Diego on the hills outside of Mexico City in 1531. Eventually Mary enables Juan Diego to convince the bishop to build a church on the site where she visited Juan Diego. There is a huge shrine there today and it is well worth visiting if you are in Mexico City.

This Mary is known not only for being pregnant but for appearing as an indigenous figure to an indigenous person. This put the Spanish Catholic hierarchy in Mexico on notice. Catholicism was accepted but it would be on Mexico’s terms helping to make the Catholic Church truly universal and particular not just a European export.

And this is how we are invited to think about the Christ, present in every age, in every context: In a way that is contextualized and suitable to local conditions. It is not just about a Westernized version of a Palestinian Jewish figure. Christ is for all times and all places and all peoples the embodiment of Divine Love.

When we look at nature, the diversity is astounding. So why should we be surprised that the spirit of the Divine embodied in humanity would not also reflect the diversity of the human species? Christ is within every culture and also beyond every culture.

To me, part of the power of the Virgin of Guadalupe is that her story is about freeing Christ from being bound to any particular culture. So, with our sisters and brothers in the southern region of North America, let us celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe and how she truly bears Christ to the whole world.

Prayer

The Christ spirit of universal Divine Love can be manifest in all cultures and all peoples. We give thanks for the many ways that Christ is made known to us as human beings. With our neighbors in Mexico, we give thanks for the way the Virgin of Guadalupe extends the universal, unconditional love of God. Amen.

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