Our Lady of Guadalupe is such a fascinating apparition of the Blessed Mother. First of all, she poses a real problem to non-believers as she left behind scientifically scrutinized, undeniable proof of a miracle. There is no honest way for “I’ll believe it when I see it” atheists to exist (or protestants who don’t believe in the importance of Mary for that matter). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google is your friend. Look up “scientific evidence for Our Lady of Guadalupe” if you feel like having your mind blown today.
There is a beautiful reality to this apparition that has to do with what Mary said to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego. She told him to have the local Bishop build a chapel. Juan knew he wouldn’t have much pull with the Bishop, and furthermore his story sounded crazy. After the Bishop rejected him and demanded some kind of proof, Juan had the additional stress of a dying uncle he was trying to see.
Juan tried to rush to his uncle’s side instead of going to see the Bishop again as Mary asked. On his way, Mary caught up with him again. (Did he think she wouldn’t know?) Juan explained his predicament, and Mary’s words next proclaim the greatness of our faith, our God, and our vocation.
“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness of your uncle or any other sickness, nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you. Do not let your uncle’s illness worry you, because he will not die now. You may be certain that he is already well.”
Pause and think about those beautiful words for a moment.
Mary is our mom. That’s not just a spiritual idea, it is a reality. She is really our mom. But we have moms already, don’t we? Do we have two moms? What does it mean that Mary is our mom? Is that just when we pray? Have you ever thought about this before?
Jesus gave Mary to the “beloved disciple” when he was on the cross, as his mom. We take that to mean that he gave her to all of us. We already have Jesus telling us to “behold your mother,” and here we have Mary ratifying that truth to Juan Diego 1500 years later.
The deeper reality here has to do with our Baptism. We are baptized in Jesus Christ, meaning we enter into union with him. Our life is a journey of deepening that union, but it begins at the moment we are baptized. As we are united to Christ, we become “adopted sons and daughters” of God. We are entered into a relationship with the Trinity as we are united to the place occupied by Christ, “in him, with him, and through him.” We are also united to his humanity, as Christ’s divinity and humanity cannot be separated. Not only do we enter into Christ’s divinity through our baptism, we enter into his humanity.
Jesus was born from a woman. That woman was married, and Jesus had a mom and a dad (we also have Joseph as a father by right of the same baptism.) We are united to the human life of Jesus and so we are adopted also into the holy family. Mary is our mom. This is the true sacramental reality of our baptism.
Recall the words of St. John Paul 2 who called the family the “school of love.” It is the family that teaches a child about identity and love. A family raises a child to know who he or she is, and what love is. The sad reality is that none of us have had perfect educators in this school. We are all fallen, and that means we all learn imperfect teachings in the school of love (and those of us with children are inevitably teaching imperfect things to them as well.)
Our hearts have been formed by imperfection; in a way, they have been miseducated. This miseducation is a distortion of God’s plan and desire for the school of love. As with everything else, the perfection of Christ restores our humanity to perfection through our baptism. The ways we were miseducated by our parents can be re-educated by the ways Jesus was raised by his perfect parents. Mary is our mother, and she is a perfect mother.
Knowing that we are children of God is one of the most important aspects of our identity we must learn. We are created by God, out of Love, and his love sustains us in being. Therefore, WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR. Our first experience of living without fear should come as children, when we know our parents take care of everything and hold our safety in their hands. To whatever extent this lesson is missing – whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually – it is fulfilled by Mary and Joseph. This is not just a spiritual reality, it is a human one. It is also an eternal one.
Another way to look at it is this: Our biological parents have that title for a short time. Ultimately, every man and woman is a brother and sister in Christ. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents will all be our brothers and sisters for eternity (with young, healthy, perfectly resurrected bodies). We will all be brothers and sisters through our baptism, which is our adoption into the family of Christ. Therefore it is more right to call Mary our mom than our biological moms. Our biological moms and dads have a vocation to teach us a reality about God and about ourselves, but their role in that capacity is temporary. Mary is our mom forever.
Not only that, she is God’s mom. We have nothing to worry about.