For a lot of people, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a relatively recent occurrence. "I don't remember hearing about this feast when I was young" is a common comment I hear from parishioners. While the celebration of this Patroness of the Americas may be new to some folks, she has been revered for more than 450 years under this title. And thankfully the devotion is growing in the United States, even beyond the expansion of Spanish-speaking members of our parishes.
One of the things I love most about this particular apparition of Mary is the way she was careful about presenting herself in a way that would be comfortable to Juan Diego. This humble man, who is now a canonized saint, was not sure exactly who she was at first, but because of her patience and gentle manner, came to realize her identity and spent his life spreading devotion to his "Morenita". Reflecting on this wonderful care that Mary showed, it made me wonder how careful I am to present faith in a way that makes it most desirable to people.
We sometimes have a "take it or leave it" attitude regarding our faith. If people are not comfortable with the way we worship or the way we express our beliefs, oh well, that is their problem. Mary showed a different way. She certainly did not appear to Juan Diego with the attitude "This is me and you'd better accept how I look". No, she knew that if she appeared as a native, pregnant woman he would be comfortable listening to her and accepting her message. And she was right!
Today I want to try to be more conscious of my manner when interacting with people. I have to be the first to love, so I need to be sure that the way I approach them and speak with them is such that they will be comfortable and open to what God wants me to bring to them. My "agenda" should always and everywhere be to do the best I can to be the presence of Christ to others. And to do this, I have to put myself in the background and let the love of God shine through. As scripture says, "He must increase while I must decrease." (John 3:30). Viva la Virgin de Guadalupe!