DECEMBER 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thank God, many parishes and communities in our country make her their patroness. And so, Our Lady, under that appellation, is quite popular among us.
To me, she evokes a most memorable memory, since it was about her that I made my first foray into writing in newspapers many years ago. I wrote about what some scientists discovered in the original image of the Our Lady imprinted on a lowly cloak of a Mexican farmer, now saint, Juan Diego.
These technical experts could not figure out what paint was used on the image which led them to conclude that the image was certainly not made by man. It must have been miraculously painted!
To top it all, they discovered that in the pupil of the half-closed eyes of the image of Our Lady, they saw figures reflected in it. Now who would draw images on a very small part of an image, as small as the pupil of an eye?
In the gospel reading of the Mass for the feast, we are presented with the story of the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. (cfr. Lk 1,39-47) It is worth noting that though she already knew that she was conceiving the very Son of God in her womb, she did not deem it below her dignity to rush immediately to help her cousin who was also on the family way with St. John the Baptist.
The meeting sparked an explosion of praises between the two. “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” said Elizabeth to Mary. “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
To this greeting, Mary responded with that famous prayer of the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…,” expressing what she felt, thought and understood about her relationship with God.
What we can gather from this gospel episode are great lessons in humility, and willingness to serve rather than to be served. To serve, to be a servant is actually a great honor. And humility allows the greatness of God to enter into our lives.
Indeed, to be a servant is a great honor. It is never a cause of shame or dishonor. It is a very special privilege, in fact. And the simple reason is that to be a servant is to be like Christ who expressly came to serve and not to be served! (cfr Mt 20,28) There can be no better dignity than that.
That is why many saints and great men and women through the centuries took pride in being regarded as servants. And the Pope as Supreme Pontiff also describes himself as Servant of Servants.
And if we happen to enjoy certain privileges and special gifts, we should immediately banish the thought and the temptation of feeling entitled. The more privileges and gifts we receive, the greater should be our desire to serve, even at the cost of great sacrifices.
Christ showed this very dramatically when at the Last Supper, he shocked his apostles when he bent down to wash their feet. In spite of Peter’s initial protestation, Christ insisted in doing so to give them, and us, a lesson that what he did to them, we should also do to one another. This is also what Our Lady of Guadalupe is showing us! By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail December 5-11, 2022 issue)