Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sorry I don't write much--my thoughts usually revolve around "When am I going to get the bulletin done?" and wondering what's going to happen today that I don't know how to do. Frantic, but not very interesting.

But last Weds, Dec. 12, was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We sang "Holden Evening Prayer", as is our community's custom during Advent for evening worship, and for the lesson I read the Guadalupe story. I used to think that the "Guadalupe thing" was very culturally specific, somwhat superstitious, bordering on idolatry. But have you read the story? It's fascinating! And as I have come to know the story and the tradition, and the people who embrace it, better, I have a new respect and admiration for La Santissima Virgen.

Guadalupe, the Most Holy and Blessed Mother, appears to Juan Diego, a most lowly and despised campesino, during the time of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. In the sort of "worst case scenario" of old fashioned mission mindset, the Indians are forced to abandon their religious and cultural customs in favor of the sanitized, civilized Christianity brought over from Europe by the conquering heroes. There's lots of rich (Aztec!) symbolism in the story, completing the transition from one world to another. [At the same time, over in Germany, Luther and Melanchthon and company were preparing to defend the Augsburg Confession.]

We lived in Puebla, Mexico, for a summer, and met many Nahuatl people and heard many stories of these ancestors of Juan Diego. That put things in context for me. We also visited the basilica of Guadalupe, and saw the thousands of pilgrims who visit there daily.

What I have come to love about Guadalupe is the reminder that she embodies: there is nothing God won't do to get to us, to get at us. Despite the powers that overtake us and occupy our souls; despite the condition of our world or of our hearts, despite our failure to see our own faithfulness, God continues to surprise us in amazing ways, to believe in us when we don't, to entrust such things as the incarnation of the Word of God to US. Who are we, that God should be mindful of us? Lucky for us, it isn't about who we are, but who God is, and who GOD knows us to be. God. Knows. Us. THAT is the miracle of Guadalupe.


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