It’s always fascinating to learn something new when I am reflecting on the named feasts of Christianity. Today, as I read the familiar story of the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was surprised to learn that the main character was a convert to Christianity and was given the name Juan Diego at the time of his baptism. A poor native living in a small village near Mexico City, his Indian name was Cuauhtlatohuac (“Singing Eagle”). I suppose this isn’t an earth-shattering revelation and it certainly is easier to spell and pronounce a name that means “John James” rather than his Indian name, but for me it emphasizes what is written in the reflection for today from franciscanmedia.org. Fr. Don Miller says that Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego as one of his people is a powerful reminder that Mary and the God who sent her accept all people. In the context of the sometimes rude and cruel treatment of the Indians by the Spaniards, the apparition was a rebuke to the Spaniards and an event of vast significance for Native Americans.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is not only the named patron of Mexico by the Roman Catholic Church, but also of the entirety of the Americas – both North and South. As I consider the treatment of Native Americans in my own country even to this day, I think it an appropriate moment for all of us to contemplate the conclusion of Fr. Miller’s reflection. In these days, when we hear so much about God’s preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God’s love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.