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The angel Gabriel was sent from God...to a virgin...and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
Last night I was watching a debate regarding (of all things) the color of Santa Claus' skin. Apparently, a woman by the name of Aisha Harris is demanding that Santa Claus no longer be a white man. Instead, she wants him to be...a penguin. That's right: white and black and...an animal.
Megyn Kelly on FOXNEWS had a tiff about the whole thing and declared (incorrectly) that Jesus was white and so was St. Nick. I like Megyn Kelly, but she is wrong on both accounts. But I know her concern. She is afraid that the race card will begin to ruin Santa Claus and Christmas. In that, she may be right. But I don't think there is anything to fear here. After all, St. Nick may have been Greek in appearance, but now he is among the angels and saints. Things change when you're no longer attached to earth. Appearances, for one. The others are race and nationality. St. Nick wasn't white. He was a saint. And when you are a saint (and on your way to heaven), you lose your nationality and race, but not your identity.
Have you ever gazed your eyes on some crèches from around the the world? What do you see? You see Mary, Joseph and Jesus. But take a closer look and what do you see? From Alaska you see an Eskimo looking baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. From Africa you see an African looking baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Apparently, Aisha Harris and Megyn Kelly have never taken a close look at a crèche from somewhere other than under their tree. Nor have they taken a close look at our Lady of Guadalupe.
Our Lady of Guadalupe. On December 9th, 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to a humble native and neophyte by the name of Juan Diego. The local Bishop, upon hearing the news, remained highly skeptical of the whole affair. So he instructed Juan to ask our Lady for a specific sign: flowers.
He asked and she delivered.
He found on the stony summit of Tepeyac Hill a marvelous garden of dew-fresh blossoms which he cut as she had asked. Placing them in his rough cloak, or tilma, he brought the rare flowers to our Lady who arranged them and told him to take them to the Bishop; that this was the sign to persuade the bishop.
In front of the Bishop, Juan Diego unfolded his tilma. To his surprise, he found the Bishop not focusing on the flowers but on his tilma.
Juan was surprised! The Bishop was surprised! Later on, the natives were surprised! But most importantly, the conquistadores were surprised!
They were all surprised, but for entirely different reasons.
Juan was surprised because he never expected to see an image of what he saw with his own eyes on his very own tilma. That must have been a shock for Juan Diego.
The Bishop and the natives were surprised because they never imagined that the Blessed Virgin Lady would appear to a poor native like Juan Diego. The Bishop should have known better.
But the most surprised were the conquistadores (that is, the Spaniards). Not only had they never imagined our Lady appearing to a former "savage" native, but they never ever imagined that our Lady would take the appearance of a former "savage" native woman.
Take a look at her image. What do you see? The moon is below her feet (cf. Rev. 12:1). This means she is greater than the pagan moon-god. Behind her is the sun. This means she is brighter than the pagan sun-god. So if Mary is greater than the moon-god and brighter than the sun-god, then she must be a god, right? No, for her hands are joined in prayer. Mary prays to God. And though she is dressed in Jewish nobility (white fur around her sleeves), Mary remains the handmaid of the Lord.
But what comes next is absolutely shocking. Mary has the oval face of an Indian teen. She is not a Spaniard. She is a native.
This image must have come as a shock to all the conquistadores, who were exploiting the land and treating the natives like slaves.
God had sent them a reminder: Blessed are the meek and humble of heart, for they will inherit the land!
On this day, our Lady broke down a huge barrier. Within a year, over eight million natives converted to Catholicism. New Spain would never be the same again.
We have much to celebrate this Christmas. And we still have much to learn from our Lady.
Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pray for us!