Going out to meet the other

Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
Luke 1:39

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Today, the church in the Americas celebrates the visitation of the Mother of God to an Indian, Juan Diego, on a hilltop in Mexico.

Mary appears to Juan Diego several times and asks him to go to the bishop to have a church built on the site, “so that I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help, and protection to all who inhabit this land…”

Twice he receives a lukewarm reception from the bishop.

On December 12, 1531, Juan Diego set out for the city to get a priest to hear his ill uncle’s confession. As Antonio Valeriano writes, “he went around the hill and passed on the other side, to the east, so as to arrive quickly in Mexico City and to avoid being detained by the Heavenly Lady.”

But Mary was insistent: “she came out to meet him.”

Mary had gone in haste to her cousin Elizabeth’s and then went out to meet Juan Diego on the road.

Mary shows us a God, the God she bore in her womb, who goes out to encounter the other, especially those in need. She reaches out to the poor, the outcast, the nothings of this world.

What a contrast to what a friend experienced a few months ago. He went to a government office to ask for help to get some soil samples tested. He was told that they didn’t have time for him.

In contrast, Mary takes time for the other, for us, and especially for the poor.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is a challenge to us to take time for others, especially the poor, to welcome those who are without power, who are despised by the rich and powerful.

For, as Pope Francis said in a general audience on December 11, 2013:

When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary’s embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America — the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come.
Mary’s embrace showed what America — North and South — is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.

 

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