December 15, 2017
Our Lady of Guadalupe
This week we celebrated the feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For almost 500 years, Our Lady of Guadalupe has been a symbol of hope and justice for the oppressed, the exploited, the abandoned, and the forgotten. Her image that first appeared on the tilma (cloak) of Juan Diego in 1531 has been displayed prominently in social justice and civil rights movements.
“Commitment to human life and dignity, to human rights and solidarity”; these are elements of what is commonly understood as social justice. In the Church today we have numerous “icons” we can look to in order to guide us in living a life that promotes justice. Maximillian Kolbe, Oscar Romero, Saint Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day are a few of the better known members of the community of justice. There is another that we can and should begin looking to: Our Lady of Guadalupe.
One of the most evident ways in which Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of justice is the care and sensitivity with which she reached out to the marginalized members of 16th century Mexican society. In taking on the appearance and speaking in the language of the indigenous, conquered population she showed that they were valued by God and had a place of honor in the Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe also reminds us of the need and responsibility to lift up the oppressed and defeated. As people of faith we can do nothing but reach out to those most in need; be it physically, spiritually or emotionally. By her example we are reminded that we are to meet people where they are. In terms of justice this means going where the need is the greatest and not being afraid to take the risk of stepping out of our comfort zone. It is a powerful lesson.
A final lesson we can take for Our Lady of Guadalupe is that of the need for solidarity in our church. One of the lasting effects of her appearance at Guadalupe was the spread of Christianity in Latin and Central America. To this day, she remains a central image of faith to millions. In terms of justice she teaches us that everyone is invited to the table of Christ and as a goal we should be working for unity among all the children of God. Whether you personally have a relationship with Our Lady of Guadalupe she stands as an icon of justice for all Catholics.”
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Prayer for Centering
Hail Mary, Lady of Peace: We pray for the peace in our world; make us peacemakers.
Hail Mary, Friend of Common People: Unite us across economic lines; together let us raise up the cause of the oppressed.
Hail Mary, Mother of Mexico: Help us both appreciate Latin America’s culture and work to end its poverty.
Hail Mary, Mother of the Infant Jesus: We pray for all children who are victims of war and hunger; let us stand for them.
Hail Mary, Wife of the Carpenter, Joseph: We pray for the rights of hardworking laborers in all the world; let their dignity be recognized.
Hail Mary, Woman of All Generations: Move us to speak for the elderly who lack adequate health care and shelter.
Hail Mary, Homeless Mother: We pray for those without homes; let us advocate for affordable housing.
Hail Mary, Lady of All Colors: Show us how to love all people by challenging racism and discrimination.
Hail Mary, Mother of Our World: Make us global citizens, working for justice and well-being in all the world. AMEN.
Invitation to Silence
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
Weekly Reflection Questions
1. John Moran Gonzalez, director of the Center for Mexican American Studiesat the University of Texas at Austin, stated tha “Our Lady is seen as the champion of the underdog, of the Indian, of all those who lack power in society.” How is her image important to the anti-racism social justice work we are doing here in Milwaukee? To civil rights in general?
2. We join with Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th to remember the women who have been murdered and mutilated in Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador since 2006. Why are women being killed in Mexico and Central America? To start, check out https://www.crs.org/our-work-overseas/where-we-work/central-america-south-america-caribbean and the “Guatemalan Human Rights Commission/USA” website.