My sister gave me a book a long time ago entitled, Our Lady of the Lost and Found. A work of fiction, the story is about a middle-aged writer who (the book jacket explains) “on a typical Monday morning, enters her living room and finds a woman standing by her fig tree. the woman is wearing a blue trench coat, white Nikes and a white shawl over her hair. She is holding a purse and a suitcase. She is the Virgin Mary…”
At first blush one might think this a comedic, irreverent story but as it turns out, it is an opportunity for the narrator “to examine life’s big questions and her own capacity for faith” and provides the same opportunity for readers, believers and non-believers alike.
On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I am reminded of this book because it describes an apparition not dissimilar to that of Juan Diego, the “hero” of the story of the apparition of the Blessed Mother that we celebrate today. A 57-year-old widower, he lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning, December 9, 1531, while walking to Mass by a hill called Tepeyac, he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. “A radiant cloud appeared, and within it stood an Indian maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico to say that the bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.” (www.franciscanmedia.org)
The story goes on and is clearly miraculous. My point today, however, is to note that any one of us might be chosen to receive an extraordinary message from the divine realm, whether or not we think we are worthy. The narrator of the book I mentioned first describes herself as follows. “If you passed me on the street, you wouldn’t notice me. This does not especially bother me. I have outgrown the need to draw attention to myself and have no particular desire to stand out in a crowd.” Juan Diego, although a devotional Christian, was a poor peasant who had no reason to expect such an extraordinary favor from God.
The lesson here is, I think, one of humility and of a trust in God that helps us to consider ourselves blessed, regardless of our life circumstances. We never know when we might be called to do great things for God. Perhaps we already are so called. Or perhaps, as Mother Teresa says, We may not be called to do great things, but only small things with great love. Are you listening for that call? Are you already living it unaware?