We join in celebrating this awesome feast today in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This day recalls the apparitions of Mary at the hill of Tepayac from December 9-12, 1531 to the native convert St. Juan Diego. She was declared patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII. Her miraculous image given on the tilma or mantle of Juan Diego has become a source of devotion, strength, inspiration and hope for the people of Mexico, for all of us who inhabit the Americas, and for the faithful of the Church everywhere. We reflect on those beautiful words she spoke to St. Juan Diego: “Do not let your heart be disturbed. Do not fear. Am I, your Mother not here? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Are you not in the folds of my arms? What more do you need?” Mary is speaking these same words to our hearts today. We are invited to lay our fears, worries and anxieties at the feet of Our Lady. She is our Mother, our advocate and protector, given to us by Jesus himself as he hung dying on the Cross for our redemption. “Behold your Mother!” What beautiful words; what a precious gift! Mary desires to wrap us in her mantle, in her tilma, of love. She always comes to help us, to intercede for us, to lead us to the loving heart of her Son, and to guide us to our place in heaven. But Mary invites us as well to stronger faith and to greater trust in God. She said yes to God with her whole heart and her whole being. “My soul proclaims the greatness of God; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She did not hold anything back. What God asked and wanted, she would try her best to do. We are asked to do the same.
Our Lady of Guadalupe asked St. Juan Diego to build a shrine in her name. This was to be a place of refuge and peace where people would find God’s love, his compassion, help, comfort and mercy. But Our Lady is calling us to build a shrine with our lives. We must be the place of refuge and hope, of kindness and compassion, of tenderness, love and joy for all we meet each day. As Archbishop Gomez said in his homily today: “So let us go out and do that today! Let us fly to her protection today and every day! She will never let us down. And let us try to live by her example – listening to God in prayer and seeking to serve others in love.” Que viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!