“I am a nobody. I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf…and you send me to a place I would never visit.”
—St. Juan Diego
There are times in our lives when we feel down on ourselves or unworthy. Juan Diego felt that way when he failed to convince his bishop of Mary’s request to build a chapel in her honor. He suggested to Our Lady that perhaps she should entrust the message to someone more worthy of the task.
Instead, Mary reaffirmed her belief in him and encouraged him to try again. With her help, he did. Having someone believe in us when we don’t believe in ourselves is such a wonderful gift. But we should also always believe in ourselves. We are not, as Juan Diego said of himself, small, tiny, the tail end, or a leaf. We are wonderfully made in the image of God and are, therefore, perfect.
Knowing that Mary would choose to appear to an indigenous farmer when she could appear anywhere and to anyone brings to many people a symbol of hope. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image on the inside of Juan Diego’s cloak is the first time Mary presented an image of herself, which perhaps contributes to the extreme popularity of, and connection with, this image.
The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe extends to all of us throughout the world. Let us celebrate the blessing she has brought to all our lives, that of her loving embrace and reminder that she is with us always.
We all have our views on various generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials. Many of these probably come from a lack of knowledge or understanding of each other. There is no more powerful connection, though, than when someone takes the time to meet you where you are.
When Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke to Juan Diego, she did so in his native language, Nahuatl, rather than the Spanish language of those who had come from Europe and powerfully imposed themselves on the native people. In doing so, Our Lady sent the message that she was connecting to Juan on his terms and exactly as who he was. How affirming that must have been for him— and other indigenous peoples of that region. The challenge for each of us is to reach out and connect with others, respecting them for who they are.
Chances are, we are not going to have an experience as profound as the Blessed Mother appearing to us. But what if we stayed alert and sought out even the smallest blessings in our everyday moments? During this season of Advent, let us search and be open to all we encounter, embracing each moment for the blessing that it is.
So often we fear the unknown and end up catastrophizing and overanalyzing situations. When we do that, we lose sight of any potential for blessings. But what if we stopped—especially during the chaos of this time of year—and allowed ourselves simply to be present in the moment? In that momentary pause, what if we opened ourselves to the blessings that might accompany those times?