Subversive Love: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Subversive Love: Our Lady of Guadalupe December 11, 2017

He has pulled down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things,
the rich he has sent away empty . (Luke 1:52-53)

This ‘bringing down those who are above’ is to subvert – or subvertere in Latin. Subvertere also means “to turn upside down”, “upset”, “overturn”, and “overthrow”. That is to say, in these verses of the Magnificat, Miriam of Nazareth teaches subversion and demonstrates the true place of her Son’s least of these, the poor, the oppressed.

This Empress of the Americas, Guadalupe, while identifying with and, in a unique way, belonging to the conquered people, did not seek to reject the oppressors – the europeans. She came with the desire to unite her children, while at the same time seeking to liberate the oppressed.

Maria of Guadalupe is a liberator, in the same sense that her Son is. Rightfully, then, she was honored and venerated – in a proper way that preserved their proper history and mythology. Her methods were not that of the europeans, of the powerful. She came to acknowledge ‘the other’ and respect their dignity, their culture, and lead them to the One who could offer life eternal.

Some historians argue that the Aztecs were slow to fight off Cortes because he was considered to be Quetzalcohuātl, the feathered serpent god, expected by Montezuma and others to return to the Aztecs. This may be some fabrication made post-conquest, but the symbolism is telling.

Cortes was a man, but also represented empire, domination, absolutizing of system, oppression, violence, and greed – this is to say, sin. Indeed, sin, which is death, came to “America” in such massive proportions as a result of the conquest.

While not exclusively, Guadalupe – Coātlaxopeuh – is often taken to mean “the one who crushes the serpent”.

How appropriate that Guadalupe would come to the aid of the poor, oppressed Indians, to “crush the serpent” and its system of greed and domination.

Indeed, Guadalupanos were always prepared to rely on La Siempre Virgen Maria de Guadalupe in their struggles for liberation.

The priest Hidalgo would raise up the flag of Guadalupe in the fight for Mexican independence in 1810. A century later (1910) Zapata would lead peasants and farmers in their fight during the Mexican Revolution under the banner of our Lady of Guadalupe. A decade after that, Cristeros would fight against the oppressive government (albeit for some new Christendom) for the sake of Cristo Rey and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Less than half a century after that, Cesar Estrada Chavez would march, united with his fellow grape pickers, to the California State Capitol in Sacramento – of course, led by a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Guadalupe – as she did when known as Miriam of Nazareth – was free and offered her life for the liberation of all, suffering with her children all the way to crucifixion – whether on Golgotha or any other system of denying (killing) the other.

The oppressed seek her out and with her find refuge. When we deny the poor, we deny Our Lady and her Son.

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