Am I Not Your Mother?

In 1531, in a small village near Mexico City lived a peasant man, Juan Diego. He was a simple farmer and laborer with no education. His wife had died two years earlier and he lived with his elderly uncle. He was on his way to Mass in the early morning on December 9 when Our Lady appeared to him. She appeared as a beautiful native princess on Tepeyac Hill, the site where an Aztec Temple used to stand.

Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego with a specific mission for him, to ask the Bishop to build a Church on the site of her appearance. Doubting his ability to convince the Bishop, Juan Diego still approaches him twice with Our Lady’s request. The Bishop skeptical of Juan Diego’s request asks for a sign from Our Lady, in which he promises to bring the next morning.

When Juan Diego returns home that evening he finds his uncle very ill. He must stay by his uncle’s bedside and as a result, will not keep his promise of a sign to the Bishop. After two days with his uncle, it becomes clear that his uncle is close to death. Juan Diego leaves quickly in search of a priest who can minister to his uncle and hear his last confession. On his way, Our Lady appears to him for a third time. Juan Diego, who is afraid and upset, explains to Our Lady about his uncle. She gently and lovingly replied to him.:

Let nothing frighten or grieve you,
let not your heart be disturbed,
do not fear any sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who am your Mother?
Are you not under my protection?
Am I not your health?

He asks Our Lady for the sign that he promised to give to the Bishop days prior. She instructs him to climb to the top of Tepeyac Hill where he will find flowers. He is to pick the flowers and hide them in his tilma until he greets the Bishop. Although he is skeptical he goes to the hill, in the cold of December he finds the most beautiful roses.

Now meeting the Bishop for a third time, Juan Diego opens his tilma, the roses falling to the floor. Surprised by the roses, the Bishop is even more astonished to see what is imprinted on his tilma, the most magnificent image of Our Lady that he had ever seen.

It is that same beautiful and miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that today still brings healing, comfort, peace, and hope, no matter the trials, difficulties, or hardships we are experiencing. The words echoed centuries ago are words spoken to each one of us, “Am I not here, who am your mother? Are you not in the crossing of my arms?”

Each one of us is created for a specific mission, a specific call. Each one of us is made for this moment in history, made for this moment in time. Despite our backgrounds, education or social status, our past mistakes or fallen nature. Whether we feel equipped or qualified, we each have the opportunity to answer the call. As Juan Diego stood uncertain of Our Lady’s request and perhaps at times we feel that same sense of uncertainty to what God is asking of us. We must never forget the comforting words of Our Lady, “Am I not here, who am your mother? Are you not in the crossing of my arms?”

We may not be asked to build a Church nor see flowers in the winter; we may never be present at an apparition nor asked to give a sign to the Bishop. Nevertheless, if we answer the call that the Lord has for us we will see and experience the miraculous hand of God’s providential love and care in each of our lives. We will be filled with faith and strength to accomplish the mission, with Our Lady ever present to us with her motherly protection and guidance.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a reminder to us of God’s love for the world, for humanity and for each one of us. During the Relevant Radio pledge drive there is a beautiful premium being offered, an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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Cassie Everts serves as Contributing Writer at Relevant Radio. She is a wife, mother, author and speaker. She is the co-author of Nursery of Heaven and blogs at Everyday Ann. She holds degrees in Theology and Communication Arts from Franciscan University of Steubenville.