Today the Church in the United States celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On this day in 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, an Indian convert in Mexico, and asked him to build a church. In order to convince the local bishop that her appearance was genuine, Mary left an impression of herself on Juan Diego’s cloak. That image still exists and is venerated to this day.
The gospel from today’s Mass relates the story of the Blessed Mother’s visit to her relative, Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-47). Mary’s appearance has quite an impact on Elizabeth, who proclaimed, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” What had an even bigger impact on Elizabeth was the baby Jesus who resided within Mary’s body. The mere presence of the Savior caused Elizabeth’s baby (John the Baptist) to leap in her womb.
In both of these stories, Mary left an impression on the person whom she visited. She also directed all of the attention away from herself and toward The Lord. In fact, when Elizabeth praised her for being the mother of the Lord, Mary replied, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” In Juan Diego’s case, she stated, “I am the ever-virgin Mary, Mother of the true God who gives life and maintains its existence. He created all things. He is in all places. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth.”
Mary never wants to be the center of attention. Her every action is designed to bring people closer to her Son. If we get closer to Mary, she will bring us closer to Jesus. As we prepare to celebrate The Lord’s birthday, let’s turn to Mary and ask her to help us prepare. By doing that, just like Juan Diego and Elizabeth, we will end up closer to The Lord.