shall not pass from the memories of men
but shall ever remind them
of the power of God.
Judith 13: 19
. . .
My first encounter with the Virgin of Guadalupe was historical and cultural rather than religious. Since I grew up in Southern California and studied Spanish, I was bound to come across the "legend" of Juan Diego and the appearance of the virgin. That account of the event has always been dominant in my memory--but today I saw it a bit differently, thanks to the verse from the book of Judith.
The trust Mary showed, the confidence that made it possible for her to say yes to the angel Gabriel, isn't her possession at all. If Mary is an example for us of discipleship, what she shows us is that the grace of God always precedes the opportunity to say yes. It is the power of God that makes obedience possible. And the experience of Juan Diego, as it is remembered this month, should remind us of the power of God. The fact that Juan Diego encountered the Blessed Virgin is not about Juan Diego, or even about Mary. The miracle of the imprint and the roses is about God, still reaching through our disbelief and fear.