Friday of the Second Week of Advent

December 9, 2016 / By: Mary Lemmons

When the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs, Juan Diego (1474-1548) was already called Cuauhtatoatzin, “The Talking Eagle.” A name of respect. Was it given for having keen insight, for killing snakes as eagles do, or for serving with distinction as an Aztec “eagle warrior”? Perhaps. Yet, within just a couple of years, this hardworking weaver of mats, childless married farmer, and wearer of a peasant’s cloak made from cactus fiber became one of the few to convert to Catholicism. This courageous seeker of truth took the name Juan Diego and eagerly began attending Mass on Saturday and Sunday, despite having to travel several miles by foot to do so.

In 1531, Juan received a challenging request from Mary the Mother of God. She first asked him to tell the local Bishop to build a chapel on a hill once dedicated to an Aztec goddess! No wonder, his delivery of that message was met with disbelief the first and the second time.

Such disbelief would have irritated The Talking Eagle, but Juan had become humble. He would persevere, honor what he knew was true, and continue to appeal to the Bishop---albeit after recommending that Mary send someone who was not a nobody. As Pope Francis explains, “The humility of the childlike is that of somebody who walks in the presence of the Lord, does not speak badly about others, looks only at serving and feels that he or she is the smallest.”

Secondly, Mary interrupted Juan’s urgent quest for a priest to give his dying uncle the last rites. She told him to pick roses for the Bishop as his uncle had recovered. Like a child, he serenely trusted her---as his heavenly mother--and obeyed; hence, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and its message that the Mother of God is not only Tlecuatlecupe, “the Serpent Crusher” (heard by Spaniards as “Guadalupe” and as referencing Gen. 3:15 and Song of Solomon 6:4), but is also our loving mother as well.

From Juan, we thus learn that faith holds fast to serving truth, inculcates a childlike humility that entrusts oneself to God’s Mother as one’s own mother, and brings serenity. 

Dr. R. Mary Hayden Lemmons, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Catholic Studies.