I am afraid that I am getting cynical in my old age and I tend to want proof of all sorts of things. The more popular something or someone is, the more doubtful I tend to be about it/them.
Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent and happened to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In the Gospel we heard how St John the Baptist languishing in Herod’s jail sent some of his disciples to see if Jesus really was the One. Now there may have been a couple of reasons for this; John must have known he wasn’t likely to get out of Herod’s custody alive and wanted his followers to follow Jesus; but maybe he was sitting in the dark, facing death and just wondering if he had been right about his younger kinsman.
Jesus is not offended by the question but tells the disciples of John to go and tell him what they have seen. He is happy to provide proof that He was indeed the Lamb of God, and that proof came in the form of miraculous healings.
When the unassuming little Indian Juan Diego went to the bishop of Mexico and said he’d seen The Blessed Mother and she was requested a chapel, it was hardly surprising the bishop asked for proof. I don’t think we can judge the poor bishop harshly- well I can’t as I would have had the same reaction.
I also have great sympathy with Juan Diego when he tried to avoid the Lady that cold December 12th. His uncle was so ill it looked as though he would die and Juan had medical issues to attend to so he skirted around the other side of the hill to avoid her. She, found him and part of her proof for the bishop was that at that very moment Juan Diego’s uncle was healed. I can’t help wondering if in the end that was more important to his family than the miraculous roses and stunningly beautiful image that appeared on the cactus fibre tilma.
It seems God was planning ahead a bit with His choice of material. Cactus fibre disintegrates and even the most skillfully woven tilmas never lasted more than 30 yrs at the most. Hang one above a load of burning candles and it would fade and rot even quicker. The tilma with the image is now over 500 yrs old and show no sign of rot. The image has been studied by scientists of all kinds and the image remains a mystery. Interestingly it sits on the fabric without sinking into it (as paints and pigments would have) in much the same way as the image on the Shroud.
We’re reading The Lady of Guadalupe this week.