Thursday, 12/12/2019, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
A Vision of Mary in Revelation
First Reading Commentary: Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab
In Genesis 3, God the Father promised that the woman’s offspring would strike at the serpent’s head. In effect, John sees this promise fulfilled in his vision of Revelation.
In Revelation 21:21-23, we find that the Kingdom’s temple is God Himself in the person of the Father and the Son as the Lamb. We also find that the light of the Kingdom comes from the glory of God through the Lamb which is the lamp.
So, when John sees God’s temple open with the ark of the covenant within, John is seeing Mary who carried the Word of God into the world. This is why one of Mary’s titles is Ark of the Covenant. She is clothed with the sun, which is God’s light, the moon under her feet and she wears a crown of twelve stars which represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Mary is also appearing in John’s vision as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Mary as Queen is also the image which she instructed St. Catherine Laboure to put on the face of the Miraculous Medal.
The woman was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Her pain was because of Eve’s sin in the garden. But the woman gave birth to a son who was destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Here, John has a vision of the King of Kings being born to the New Eve.
John also sees the beast who, appears as a large dragon that stands before the woman wanting to devour her child when she gives birth. But the child is saved and taken up to God and His throne while the woman flees into the desert to a place prepared by God. In this part of John’s vision, we are reminded that when Jesus was born, King Herod wanted to kill Him so it was necessary for Mary and Joseph to flee to Egypt with the baby Jesus. Egypt is the place that God had chosen because Jesus came to lead us in our exodus out of this life and into the next. As the exodus of the Israelites began in Egypt, Christ began the exodus for all of us in Egypt.
The beast has seven heads with seven diadems on the heads. This is a sign of the devil’s dominion over the earth. Those who fall to the devil’s temptations surrender themselves to be ruled by the evil one. These are the stars that the dragon’s tail sweeps away from the sky in Revelation and hurls down to the earth.
But the devil’s dominion over the earth is only temporary. On the day of the second coming of Christ, the devil will be defeated and the King of Kings will reign forever. And all of the King’s disciples will say, “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.”
So, what does any of this have to do with the apparition of Mary to Juan Diego? Mary appeared as a tender and compassionate mother. She asked Juan Diego to go tell the bishop in Mexico City that she wanted a chapel to be built at the site of her apparition. The chapel was built and is now the Basilica of Guadalupe. It is a symbol of God’s love for all people including the poor. It is a symbol of the New Eve, our mother in heaven, loving her children and wanting all of her children to be nurtured by her Son’s Word.
As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we celebrate Mary as our mother in heaven who carried the Word of God, which became Flesh, into the world for all of us. We also celebrate Mary as our Queen in Heaven who continues to do all that she can to share her Son’s love and grace with all of us.
Mary appeared to Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. Is it a coincidence or did Mary purposely decide to make this apparition during Advent? You decide but consider the way that Mary appeared to Juan Diego surrounded by the sun as though she was wearing it and compare that to John’s vision in Revelation. Then learn more about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the events that transpired between her and St. Juan Diego.
Gospel Commentary: Luke 1:39-47
The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth is the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Luke tells us that Mary made haste to a town of Judah and entered Zechariah’s house. Mary made this trip immediately after being told by the angel Gabriel that she would bare a son and so would her cousin Elizabeth in spite of her age. Remember again that in their time, traveling was difficult. But Mary had faith that both of these sons were to be important people in God’s plan.
Elizabeth’s baby, John the Baptist, leaped in her womb when Mary greeted her. Filled by the Holy Spirit, she cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” This is the gospel that this part of the prayer of the Hail Mary comes from. We know that Blessed, means happy so Elizabeth said happy are you and happy is your baby.
Elizabeth asked, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me…Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Here, Elizabeth professed her faith in God and acknowledged Mary’s faith. Mary’s answer is the prayer of the Magnificat. It begins with the line, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Mary was the perfect person to be the mother of Jesus for many reasons. Two of those reasons were her willingness to go out of her way with her humble generosity and her zealous commitment to giving all of herself to someone else in need. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth demonstrated both of these traits.
All good mothers possess a zealous commitment of giving all of themselves to their children. The thing that makes Mary a special mother is that she not only gave birth to Jesus, but as the New Eve, she is also our mother in heaven. Mary is not our physical mother but when she said, "Yes" to the angel Gabriel, she said, "Yes" to all of God's plan for her which, included being our spiritual mother.
We also look at this gospel today because it is the Visitation. Mary has made many apparitions over the years and has appeared all over the world. We pick this gospel for her apparition to Juan Diego because Mary appeared as an Aztec princess but most importantly as a mother. When we meditate on the Visitation, we must consider the fact that Mary immediately began her role as the New Eve and our mother in heaven by going to assist Elizabeth in her final stages of pregnancy. Mary acted as our mother in heaven when she went to Juan Diego to bring the Word of her Son to the poor people of Mexico outside of Mexico City.
We do not need a personal apparition by Mary to know that she is there for us. If we have faith in her Son, we know that she is there for us because it is her Son who appointed her as our mother in heaven. We know that Mary is always there for us because she is the Mediatrix of All Grace which means that all grace from God comes through her. That is because God Himself passed through Mary as Jesus came into this world. All of this, we celebrate today as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Nativity itself.