REFLECTION FOR TODAY,
December 12, 2020
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. Luke 1:30–31
Today we celebrate five successive apparitions of our Blessed Mother to Juan Diego, who was an Indian convert to the faith. Early in the morning of December 9, 1531, Juan was traveling to the town of Tlatelolco where he intended to attend a catechism class and the holy Mass. However, on his way, as he passed by the Tepeyac Hill, he was gifted by the vision of a bright light and heavenly music. As he gazed upward with wonder and awe, he heard a beautiful voice calling him. As he moved toward the voice, he saw the glorious Mother of God standing in youthful appearance in heavenly splendor. She said to him, “I am your merciful Mother…” She further revealed to him that she wanted a church built on that spot and that Juan was to go and tell this to the Bishop of Mexico City.
Juan did as our Lady asked, but the bishop was reluctant to believe. But once again, the Mother of God appeared to Juan and asked him to return to the bishop with her request. This time the bishop asked for a sign, and Juan reported this to the Mother of God. She said a sign would be provided, but Juan was prevented from receiving that sign, since he needed to attend to his sick uncle.
However, after two days, on December 12, 1531, Juan was once again traveling to the church in Tlatelolco to ask the priest to come and attend to his dying uncle. But this time Juan had taken a different route so as to avoid delay from his heavenly visitor. But this time our Blessed Mother came to him and said, “It is well, littlest and dearest of my sons, but now listen to me. Do not let anything afflict you and be not afraid of illness or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Are you not in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need? Do not fear, for your uncle is not going to die. Be assured…he is already well.”
As soon as Juan heard this from his heavenly visitor, he was overjoyed and asked for a sign to give to the bishop. The Mother of God directed him to the top of the hill where he would find many flowers that were in bloom completely out of season. Juan did as she said, and upon finding the flowers, he cut them and filled his outer cloak, his tilma, with them so he could bring them to the bishop as the sign requested.
Juan then made his way back to Bishop Fray Juan de Zumarraga, the Bishop of Mexico City, to present him with the flowers. To the surprise of all, as he opened his tilma to pour forth the flowers, there appeared on his tilma the image of the very woman who had appeared to him. The image was not painted; rather, every thread of this simple and coarse cloak had changed color to create the beautiful image. That same day, our Blessed Mother had also appeared to Juan’s uncle and miraculously cured him.
Though these miraculous events have become embedded into the fabric of the Mexican culture, the message is far more than cultural in significance. “I am your merciful mother,” she said! It is our Blessed Mother’s deepest desire that all of us come to know her as our mother. She wants to walk with us through the joys and sorrows of life as any loving mother would. She wants to teach us, lead us and reveal to us the merciful love of her divine Son.
Reflect, today, upon the miraculous actions of the Mother of God. But reflect, especially, upon her motherly love. Her love is a pure mercy, a gift of the deepest care and compassion. Her only desire is our holiness. Speak to her this day and invite her to come to you as your merciful mother.
My most merciful mother, I love you and invite you to pour forth upon me your love. I turn to you, this day, in my need, and I trust that you will bring me the abundant grace of your Son, Jesus. Mother Mary, O Virgin of Guadalupe, pray for us who turn to you in our need. Saint Juan Diego, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.