An Example for our Times
December 12, we celebrated an important and beautiful Feast - the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and Star of the New Evangelization. A lot can be said about Our Lady of Guadalupe, but I want to focus on Juan Diego and what we can learn from his part in this beautiful story. In particular, I want to focus on his humility, obedience, and concern for family.
Mary called Juan "the humblest of my children," and I would argue his humility is what made him the perfect person for this mission. When the Bishop refused to believe him initially, Juan suggested to Mary that she send someone of more importance. But, it was Juan Diego’s insignificance that made it clear this was the work of God alone. As disciples, we must first learn it is not about us! Like Juan Diego, we are called to put our gifts at the service of God with trust and leave the rest to Him. Ultimately, the salvation of men is not dependent on our importance, creativity, or ingenuity, but upon the mercy and goodness of God.
Secondly, we can learn from Juan’s radical obedience. Even though he didn't think the bishop would believe him, he obeyed Mary's request and returned to the bishop three times. And perhaps most importantly, he was obedient without being privy to the whole plan! He didn't know of the final sign she would perform by imprinting her miraculous image on his tilma. Nevertheless, he obeyed, leaving the future up to the providence of God. Often times in evangelization, we are asked to trust God enough to simply do what He asks, as strange and insignificant as it may seem, and allow Him to work in a beautiful and mysterious way.
Lastly, we can learn from Juan's concern for others. Most of the time, God calls us to minister to our families first. Juan Diego sacrificed a meeting with the Blessed Mother because his sick uncle needed him. He was so moved by concern for a loved one, he was willing to sacrifice even an amazing encounter with the Mother of God! Before we think about preaching Christianity to our family and friends, let's start with just tending to their needs, be present to them, to sacrifice for them in real ways, like Juan Diego did. Because then, when they ask why we serve them with such joy, we will have the opportunity to share Jesus with them, and this time, they'll be listening.
St. Juan Diego's example of humility, obedience and concern for family teaches us a great deal about the practical virtues necessary for the life of discipleship and evangelization. God grant us, through the graces given on this beautiful Feast, the ability to become like him, an instrument of your love and mercy for a broken world.