Our Lady of Guadalupe (Feast)
Do not be afraid, Mary.
Mary was “greatly troubled,” both by the sudden and unexpected appearance of an angel and by what the angel said to her (Luke 1:29). But the angel assured her: “Do not be afraid” (1:30). What a consoling message this must have been!
Skip ahead to the year 1531. Mary appears to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City. She asks him to go to the bishop to request that he build a chapel there in her honor. The bishop wants a sign, and Mary promises that she will give one to Juan the next day. In the meantime, however, Juan’s uncle falls ill, causing him to miss his appointment with Mary. Of course, he’s upset about his uncle and afraid because he failed to come when he said he would. But when Mary appears to Juan Diego again, she says, “Do not be grieved or be disturbed by anything. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?”
You probably know the rest of the story. Mary gives Juan Diego a sign for the bishop: roses that had bloomed in the winter. Juan gathers them in his tilma, and when the roses fall to the ground, the beautiful image of Our Lady appears on the tilma. Seeing the image, the bishop accepts Mary’s request.
These stories remind us that while fear is a natural response, the way we deal with our fears is more important. Mary’s response, “May it be done to me according to your word,” was a declaration of trust in the Lord (Luke 1:38). Juan Diego too responded with trust, not letting fear or worry prevent him from meeting again with Mary or going back to the bishop.
How do you wrestle with fear? It’s easy to let fear keep us from doing what God is asking of us. But Mary and Juan Diego show us how to respond: with trust and a decision to move ahead, despite our fears. God understands our fears, but he doesn’t want them to paralyze us. So on this feast day, remember the angel’s words to Mary and take them to heart: “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:30). The God who loves you, who has been with you every step of the way, will not let you down.
“Lord, though I may be afraid, I will trust in you!”
(Psalm) Judith 13:18-19
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