Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
I’m pretty sure the author of the Book of Revelation must have had access to my newsfeed -- both are full of horrible things. Dragons sweeping stars from the sky and devouring children doesn’t seem too far beyond the realm of possibility. Crisis is all around. There are agents of hate. There is confusion. There is fear.
But the scriptures are relentlessly hopeful. God is with us. God’s reign will come. Our humiliation will be turned to greatness, our fear to love. There is a great sign in the sky. There is a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of stars. There is Mary, full of grace.
If I pay attention, the right kind of attention, I notice that my newsfeed isn’t all fire and brimstone. Friends and family are expecting children or caring for newborns. Strangers post stories of hope and resistance, creativity and love. It’s as if there were a conspiracy of care woven into the buzz of fear and suspicion. Even in suffering there is tenderness.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She’s patroness of many of my favorite places, from migrant shelters to taco stands, and her image is everywhere, from tattoos to t-shirts. And why not? She’s beautiful. She’s powerful. She’s familiar. She’s authentically just very very good. Her message of love for the outcast, protection for the vulnerable, hope for the hopeless, is really good news. And I need good news. I need Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Young mothers know better than anyone the risks of tenderness, of loving the vulnerable, of carrying something fragile in a cruel world. But they do it. And theirs is a real strength. They bear love within and they labor in order to birth it. The woman with child is powerful in a way that doesn’t ignore the risks of love.
And that red dragon? Actually powerless. Tempting. Flashy. Distracting. Yes. But powerful? Not really. That image of fear, with its jewels and horns, is, literally, all smoke and mirrors - it has no real value. The child is lifted safely to the throne of God, a throne that has nothing to do with precious stones but everything to do with precious blood. Even in difficult times, we proclaim the power of tenderness, we embody the power of love. We bear a Christ-child within us and we pray to know its worth.
There are moments when, in stillness, in a deep breath, in a consoling word or an encouraging conversation, I come to know the truth of this good news in spite of all the bad news. In these moments, I feel close to Mary because in the silence of God my soul proclaims this greatness.
How can I pay attention to the conspiracy of care around me, rather than giving into the distracting dragons vying for my attention?
Brendan Busse, SJ