Dear Juan, dear Juan Diego….
Know, be sure, my dearest and youngest son,
that I am … Mary, mother of the one great God….
I want very much that they build here for me a temple,
in which I will show Him,
I will exalt Him on making Him manifest;
I will give Him to the people in all my personal love,
in my compassionate gaze,
in my help, in my salvation,
because I am truly your compassionate mother,
yours and of all the people who live together in this land,
and of all the other people of different ancestries,
those who love me, those who cry to me,
those who seek me, those who trust in me,
because there I will listen to their weeping, their sadness,
to remedy, to cleanse and nurse
all their different troubles, their miseries, their suffering.
Those were the words of Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, as she began the first of her visits with Saint Juan Diego.
She spoke to him in his own Nahuatl language.
The earliest narrative of her meetings with him is in Nahuatl, and begins with the words Nican mopohua, “Here is told.”
The Nican mopohua narrative is part of a longer report on the Guadalupe apparition, Huei Tlamahuiçoltica, “The Great Event.”
For her feast on this day, December 12, we can choose from several Gospel readings.
Let’s consider here Luke 1:39-47, where Mary visited Elizabeth in the hills of Judea, just as she would visit Juan Diego on a hill in Mexico.
The Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth when she heard Mary’s voice, and Elizabeth confessed the presence of God.
Why is this granted me, that the mother of my LORD should come to me?
Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice.
The Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth.
Elizabeth shouted out her faith in God.
There is a second place in the New Testament where Mary’s voice is instrumental in the Holy Spirit’s filling others and bringing them to faith.
After the Ascension of Christ, the apostles waited in Jerusalem for the might of the Holy Spirit to act within them.
With one accord they devoted themselves to prayer together with Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary who already received the Holy Spirit in Nazareth years before.
The prayer of Mary called upon the might of the Holy Spirit to enliven the Church of the apostles.
Because of prayer with Mary, the apostles knew the Holy Spirit of the Father, the Holy Spirit working through the Son in the children of the Father.
On the tenth day after Christ’s Ascension, the Spirit-filled preaching of the apostles won over three thousand souls to baptism.
In the Word of God [Rev. 22:17], the last revelation of the Holy Spirit is also the last revelation of Mary, last revelation of the Church and the last invocation of Jesus before his return.
The Spirit and the Bride say [to Jesus], “Come.”
In today’s Gospel, the body of Mary bears the Son of God in flesh and blood, and the voice of Mary ushers in the Holy Spirit who fills Elizabeth.
There is a pattern in all these Spirit events.
Mary is the flesh and blood of Jesus, and she lifts up her voice for others.
The Spirit fills them.
They confess the faith.
That pattern is the heart of the Church’s devotion to Mary.
The Word of the Lord says the prayer of the saints rises like incense in the presence of God.
We pray for each other.
We trust that the saints who have gone before us also pray for us.
We pray with Mary, the apostles and all the saints that the Holy Spirit may fill us, so that we may serve God in Christ and bring others to faith and baptism.
Today in the Gospel, Mary visits the hill-country home of Elizabeth.
Mary lifts up her voice.
The Holy Spirit rushes upon Elizabeth.
Elizabeth confesses her faith in the Lord God whom Mary is already carrying in her body.
We celebrate today the four hundred and eighty-ninth anniversary of similar mysterious events that took place [A.D. 1531] in the hills of Mexico City.
By the year 1531, the Gospel had been in Mexico only about ten years.
The Spanish conquistadores, “conquerors,” had brought the Gospel, but they also brought the conquering sword.
It may have seemed the end of the world for the aboriginal people of Mexico.
There were very few Christian conversions among them in those first years.
Then in 1531, an indigenous Mexican named Cuautlatoatzin, meaning “Talking Eagle,” who received the name Juan Diego at his baptism, met Mary on Tepeyac Hill at the edge of Mexico City.
She spoke of her motherly love for Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin and of her sincere respect for his dignity in the sight of God.
She spoke to him of Christ her son.
She lifted up her voice on behalf of the Gospel.
Then the work of the Holy Spirit in Mexico really began to blossom like roses after a ten-year winter of nearly fruitless Spanish missionary work.
Within forty years after Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin heard and saw Mary, practically all of Mexico’s aboriginal people had freely accepted baptism.
Mary had sent Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin, an indigenous Mexican, to ask the Spaniards for the building of a church, and thereby to ask for the growth of the Church that preaches the Gospel, baptizes souls and worships God.
In those early years of Spanish conquest, the Mexican natives could not help but identify the Church with Spanish might.
By contrast, Mary came to Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin with tender love for him and with great open respect for his human dignity.
She came as ambassador of God’s esteem for Juan Diego’s native Mexican people and for their dignity.
She brought them the Gospel in her unique and most convincing way.
At the sound of her voice, the Holy Spirit quickly filled Mexico with the fruits of baptism and the upbuilding of the Church.
May the prayers of Mary, Saint Juan Diego Cuautlatoatzin and all the saints call down the Holy Spirit upon us, that we may be free to live ever more faithfully in the Church as sons and daughters of God our Father in Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.
Turn. Love. Repeat.