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Our Lady of Guadalupe
Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord. (Zechariah 2:15)
Today we celebrate one way that God has fulfilled this promise from Zechariah. In December of 1531, God sent his special messenger, the Virgin Mary, to the native peoples of what is now Mexico and to the Spanish colonizers who found it so easy to exploit them. She appeared in a familiar form, as a pregnant native woman dressed in everyday native garb. And because of her appearance and the miracles that followed, the peoples of yet another nation and another culture bound themselves to the Lord.
But there’s more to the story of Guadalupe than dramatic conversions. Missionaries from Western Europe have sometimes been tempted to impose their culture on peoples with very different ways. Of course, accepting the gospel means changing your life. You can’t become a Christian and continue to practice polygamy or engage in drunken brawls. But you don’t have to sing Gregorian chant or celebrate Mass in a grand cathedral. Jesus came to liberate people from sin, but he also came to set them free so that they could express their worship in their own way, in line with their own culture.
Have you ever gone to Mass with people from a different background than your own? This can be a powerful experience of how our Church is both local and universal. You may not understand the language. You may find the hymns unfamiliar. But you will still be able to follow along with everyone there—with your brothers and sisters.
Try to grab opportunities like this whenever they present themselves. It may be a televised liturgy. It may be as you are traveling. Perhaps there is a church in your city where Mass is celebrated in a different language or in Latin or according to the Byzantine or Coptic rite. Or perhaps you can expand your horizons through music or art. For example, you can research the many different ways Our Lady has been portrayed in paintings and sculptures, from Nairobi to Nagasaki, from Czestochowa to Chechnya.
God is so much bigger than we think. And he has called us into a family that is spread throughout the world.
“Holy Mary, help me to learn from all your children how to magnify the Lord.”
(Psalm) Judith 13:18-19; Luke 1:26-38
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