Guadalupe: Light and Change of our Reality
By Rev. Manuel F. Ibarra, Pastor, St. Ann Deming
On the Hill of the Tepeyac near the lake in Mexico City, the apparition of the ever Virgin, Our Lady of Guadalupe, mother of the True God for which we live, took place. During the first days of December of 1531, ten years after the conquest of Mexico City, the apparition of the Guadalupana illuminated the reality of the conquered villages of the so-called New World with a message of faith. The reality of the conquest that dispossessed the villages from their autonomy, from their liberty and in many cases from their lives, is irradiated with the presence of the Mother of the True God.
The story of how the Virgin Mary appears on the Hill of the Tepeyac to Juan Diego started to disperse amongst natives and between villages. They all realized the steps and difficulties Juan Diego had to deal with at the Bishop’s house and in Mexico City. They knew about how the Virgin had healed Juan Diego’s uncle Juan Bernardino and how the Virgin’s image appeared on the ayate in the presence of the new Bishop of Mexico, Fr. Juan de Zumárraga.
The truth about the Guadalupana couldn’t remain a personal experience; everyone acknowledged the fact. It influenced and provoked a change in the lives of everyone.
The apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe is a supernatural fact that reflects the project of the evangelization of the original villages and the rejection of the spiritual conquest as a forcibly imposed evangelization accompanied by the oppression and the sword. The evangelization changes the world of death into a world of life. The reality of the Guadalupana overcomes the difficulties that appear impossible.
The reality of the Guadalupana, in its narrative is universally known as “Nican Mopohua” which are the first two words that she first enunciates. They are translated as, “It is narrated here”. It is written in the Nahuatl dialect in its classic style. It is a direct, smooth, beautiful, elegant, harmonious, profound and highly significant dialect. It is written in the symbolic language, which goes beyond the textual meaning. The symbol gives the object a more profound, richer meaning than what the actual word has to offer, for example “flower” is a symbol of truth, beauty and philosophy, etc. The more serious researchers acknowledge Don Antonio Valeriano as the original author of the “Nican Mopohua.” He was a native, student, and later on a teacher at the school of Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco. He was a translator and informant of Friar Bernardino of Sahagun. Friar Bernardino was a writer and a specialist in Latin who, in addition to other responsibilities in the field of politics, was the governor of the Indios in Mexico for 40 years.
History is made and a new story emanates with the presence of Guadalupe. Not only can the powerful be part of the evangelization. With Guadalupe everyone forms part of the evangelization which now includes the poor, the Indians, and the conquered. The needs of the poor are the needs of the Virgin. Without the participation of the poor, the Indians, and the conquered, the Virgin’s plan and wishes cannot be fulfilled. The powerful cannot be the only ones evangelizing. The poor, the Indians and those in need must accept their mission and act in representation of the Virgin. According to the Virgin, only Juan Diego can fulfill what she desires. With this one mission, Juan Diego will gain the experience and confidence in himself. The qualities and dignity of the poor must be acknowledged. Juan Diego accepts his mission, and identifies the Virgin in his own situation and now knows how the poor are being judged when the Bishop does not believe him. Those that are close to the Bishop have a negative influence in him – injustice has its co-conspirator.
The suffering and tragedy of the village is the suffering of the Guadalupana. The Virgin consoles Juan Diego by telling him “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 something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”
The Truth of the living Word is that the Guadalupana is with child, she has Jesus Christ, the Son of God in her womb. It is the truth that converts and transforms the most impossible reality of the conquest, the war, the poverty, the injustices, etc. The poor ambassador of the Virgin also converts the heart of the Bishop. In order to believe in the Virgin, you must also believe in the poor.
Juan Diego asks the Virgin for a sign so that the Bishop may believe. The Bishop converts at the sight of the truth of the Virgin. The sign comes from God.
Juan Diego’s uncle, Juan Bernardino certifies that he is cured and is considered the greatest miracle. It is he who reveals the name of the Virgin: GUADALUPE.
The promise of the Virgin to remedy the suffering of her children is fulfilled. The construction of the temple to “listen to the wailing and heal the miseries, suffering and pain…” is linked to the change of the situation of the village. The temple rises as an acknowledgement of the dignity of the poor.
The construction of this temple is continuous. Just like the humble Juan Diego, his uncle Juan Bernardino, Bishop Juan Zumárraga, and the entire village, we all have an important role in the transformation of our reality enlightened by the living Word in the Gospel.