How does the Divine make itself known today?
Jesus was a totally unexpected gift from God. Sure the prophets foretold it, or so we say in hindsight. But if there’s a theme to Advent, and especially to this week, it’s that we must learn to see God in unexpected ways.
Our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers commemorate Our Lady of Guadalupe on this day. For some this commemoration seems like idol worship at its worst and superstition at its best. But if we take a step back from preconceived notions and prejudices, perhaps we can see what this commemoration day really means.
The purported appearance of Mary in Guadalupe to the unexpected traveler, Bishop Juan Diego could not have come at a more needful time. The poor were being oppressed and ignored, and the prayers of the people came to God. The people prayed for God to show them a sign that God heard them and knew them!
We all can identify with that sentiment, if we’re honest with ourselves. Even as we hear Jesus chide Thomas in the Gospel of John for believing only because he has seen (“blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,” Jesus notes), we all long to see, to have a sign of God’s presence.
As Arturo Perez, theologian and historian notes, “Guadalupe’s significance is both word and symbol. She provides the answer to the prayers of her faithful people: ‘God is with you!’ Her very appearance, as one of the poor, aligns her with them. Guadalupe’s proclamation can be seen as God’s option for the poor.”
I wonder if perhaps this season’s focus on charity, good works, on those who go without (do you hear the bells on the street corners even now?) might be a similar sighting for us.
God’s option for the poor is not seasonal.
Questions for reflection: How might God be showing up in your life in this time of waiting? Perhaps you’re waiting for God, and perhaps God is right in front of you. How might you embody the idea that God’s presence amongst those that go without does not demand attention just seasonally, but always?