Monday, December 10, 2012

Rejoice! ¡Tenga alegría! God loves all people! ¡Dios le ama a cada ser humano!

Rejoice! Today – 10 Dec. 2012 – is another opportunity to share the Good News: God loves all people!
¡Tenga alegría! Hoy – 10 dec. 2012 – es una oportunidad para compartir la Buena Noticia: ¡Dios le ama a cada ser humano!
Podemos aprender por el ejemplo de Santo Juan Diego, a quien la Virgen María (la Virgen de Guadalupe) habló el 9, 10, y 12 dec. 1531. (Detalles en inglés en el sermón que sigue.)

We can learn from the example of Saint Juan Diego, to whom the Virgin Mary (the Virgin of Guadalupe) spoke on 9, 10 & 12 Dec. 1531. (Details below in sermon “Rose Sunday: The Blush of Anticipation – A Vision of Wonders”.)

Rose Sunday:
The Blush of Anticipation

A Vision of Wonders
Homily By The Rev. Deacon Marcia McRae
For Advent 3, Dec. 12, 2010, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
Year A – RCL  Isaiah 35:1-10; Canticle 15 (Magnificat); James 5:7-10; Matthew11:2-11
Beloved brothers and sisters, we have wonders to explore today! Visions to see anew! Stories to hear of lowly people who say “Yes” to God!
Rose Sunday marks the half-way point in our Advent journey to Christmas, and this year it falls on a date significant for many Christians in this hemisphere. Dec. 12th is the day we remember the appearance of La Virgen de Guadalupe, The Virgin of Guadalupe. Our Lord’s Mother, Mary, is depicted as she appears on the cloak of the peasant Juan Diego[1]. The date of that appearing is Dec. 12, 1531.
This story of The Virgin appearing to Juan Diego is close to us in time and space – less than 500 years ago and not far across our southern border. Today’s Scriptures take us back 2,000 years ago to far away Palestine to ponder young Mary’s joyful response to the miraculous appearing by the Angel Gabriel. Mary says “Yes” to his shocking good news.
Across the ages, across the globe, God keeps reaching out to God’s creation, reaching out to all people to draw them into God’s love. Being drawn into that love brings joy and rejoicing.
When Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth and sings her Magnificat, the two women are caught up in praise and joy, as commentators note. Young Mary carries Jesus in her womb. Elizabeth in her old age will soon give birth to John the Baptist – the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Like John, Juan Diego certainly is among the least living in Mexico so soon after Christianity comes there. It is only 12 years after the Spaniard Cortez conquers the Aztec empire. Those fierce Aztec warriors practiced human sacrifice and can’t grasp God who would die[2]. Spain rules. The Church says Jesus died and rose again.
This appearance of our Lord’s Mother to a new convert IS a thing of wonder. It is no wonder that the Church hierarchy does not immediately let Juan Diego give his message to the Bishop of Mexico. He first tries to speak with the Bishop Dec. 9th when Our Lord’s Mother appears to him on a hillside where cacti grow among rocks. She asks Juan Diego to be a messenger and ask the Bishop of Mexico to build a church on the hillside as a place to show God’s love.
Juan Diego returns to the Bishop’s palace Dec. 10th after she appears again on that hillside. The Bishop is impressed by his brave persistence and this time listens. Like most of us might do, the Bishop asks for proof – some token from Our Lord’s Mother. Why would you immediately believe one of the least among conquered people? (It’s easier to SAY the Good News of Jesus is for everyone than to live that truth.)
Juan Diego again encounters the Virgin Mary on that barren hillside Dec. 12th and reports the Bishop’s request. Our Lord’s Mother tells Juan Diego to pick the flowers – – roses suddenly blooming among the rocks.
Today Isaiah tells us: “The desert...shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.”
I wonder if Juan Diego sings as he wraps the roses in his cloak and returns to the Bishop’s palace. People notice the beautiful scent of roses. In front of the Bishop, Juan Diego opens his cloak and the blossoms tumble down, becoming the image of Mary as they fall.
Every detail of this picture carries meaning for the conquered Aztecs.[3] The stars on her heavenly blue cloak, the sun’s rays around her, flowers and leaves on her gown, her knee bending in adoration are symbols that speak of God’s creative power and love for all people – even the least.
Her brown skin and the placement of her hands contrast to the iron grip of the white hand of Spanish rule. Her sash is tied like a native woman expecting a child.
God who dies on a cross is difficult for the Aztecs to accept. A virgin mother who gives birth to God’s Son is a concept they grasp with this simple picture.
It is a simple picture? Like God’s Mystery, it defies total comprehension. Church leaders and others have explored it almost 500 years. The 20th century brought scientific testing to Juan Diego’s cloak, even by a NASA scientist, and the use of high-tech optical devices.[4]
Here’s what we know[5]: The cloak is made of fibers from the maguey plant. Scientists cannot explain the cloak’s lack of discoloration, lack of deterioration, or lack of insect damage. Scientists have been unable to explain the source of its colors. They do know the colors are not from animal, mineral, or vegetable sources.[6]
One thing experiments do show is about The Virgin’s eyes[7]. Optical devices reveal a reflection deep within the pupils. It is the figure of a native man looking at her. Some believe it is Juan Diego.
Juan Diego is his Spanish name – probably given at Baptism. His name in his native language means “The eagle who speaks.”[8] Juan Diego lives up to that name in 1531 when the Eagle gently speaks truth to those in power. His faith to be a messenger lets all know that Jesus comes for everyone – for all peoples.
In 2002 the Church names him Saint Juan Diego[9] – this man who says “Yes” to God. “Yes” is what Our Lord’s Mother Mary says as the Angel Gabriel appears with shocking good news.
Mary, Juan Diego, you, me – God asks not that we become other than who we are, but that with joy and wonder we say “Yes” to be God’s messengers of Good News in this time and place.
We have a message of Good News to share: Jesus is risen and works among us and through us. Jesus’ working through us (as our Gospel today says) means the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead live again, and the poor have Good News.
And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at our message. Amen.

Barclay, William. The Gospel of Luke. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975.
Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew: Vol. 2. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975.
Barclay, William. The Letters of James and Peter. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Howard, Katherine L. Waiting in Joyful Hope: Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas 2005-2006 Year B. Harrisburg: Morehouse, 2005.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
Rodriguez, Mario B. the Spirit of Spanish America. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1957.
Toor, Frances. A Treasury of Mexican Folkways. Mexico, D.F.: Mexico Press, 1947.
Villapando, José Manuel. La Virgen de Guadalupe: una biografía. México, D.F.: Editorial Planeta Mexicana. 2004.

[1] Depiction of Juan Diego with Virgin of Guadalupe appearing on his cloak is from www. Accessed: 10 Dec. 2012.
[2] Note: As I have learned through various studies and conversations (including in Mexico) and in several texts listed in the bibliography.
[3] Note: As I have learned through various studies and conversations (including in Mexico) and in several texts listed in the bibliography.
[4] Villapando, José Manuel. La Virgen de Guadalupe: una biografía. Pp. 137-151.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Villapando. Ibid.
[7] Ibid.

No comments:

Post a Comment