Christmas is a good time to remember the words of Our Lady to St. Juan Diego: “Am I not here who Am Your Mother?” Those are tender words of a Mother to her baby, to that defenseless human being who cannot survive on his own. Recently, I saw a well intentioned poster depicting the Holy Family. Next to the image, in Spanish, were the words: “Navidad es ternura” (Christmas is tenderness) and that is true if we only center the attention in those cute images of baby Jesus under the gaze of his parents. But Christmas is not only that. That baby is a divine infiltrate, a well trained commando sent from a very far land to explore our world. He comes to form a group of other soldiers like him. They will remain behind growing in number while he goes away to gather legions of angels ready for battle. This used to be his territory until enemies took control of it. The enemies locked their conquest by infecting the human population with sin and death. At the time of Christ’s arrival in this world, almost no one knew that redemption was possible. Even fewer knew that redemption was already born among them.
It was a daring but very clever trick. It required total secrecy and lots of humility. Logos (John 1:1) was the only being who could possibly complete the task without any possibility of failure. The plans were prepared many centuries prior. They began when the Divine Word came to a man on a hill near Ur, in Chaldea:
“Go from your country,
your people and your father’s household
to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Abraham could never imagine that the Being whose voice he was hearing would one day incarnate to become the patriarch’s own descendant. It was a strange secret. That man still to be born many generations later would speak Abraham’s language, perhaps He even bore some resemblance to his ancestor. From the moment that Avram believed, his name was changed to Abraham by adding the crucial letter ה. That letter (if I am not mistaken) sounds similar to an aspired “h” –a breath is added to Avram’s name– and could be evidence of the Spirit that would enter into a human family from that moment on, making Abraham a father of nations.
Imagine now that being, the all powerful Creator, the Impulse, and the Destiny of the entire universe: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) Imagine the million upon million of nuclear reactions that take place at the heart of every star. Imagine the extension of space and time and all the mysteries of material and spiritual life. The Logos made all that and He keeps the whole thing going. See Isaiah 40:25-26
“To whom will you compare Me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
That unimaginably powerful being had plans no one could fathom. No one could possibly imagine Him taking a human nature, being born of a Jewish virgin into a poor family residing in the dusty fringes of the Roman Empire. How could God render Himself a defenseless and weak baby into the arms of a young woman in the middle of nowhere?
In that sense, I am a Christian this Christmas and it may so happen that you are feeling like me. Let us admit we –as the mystical body of Christ at this hour– are that poor baby in the manger today just as Jesus was two millennia ago. We are as needy and helpless as He allowed Himself to become. That is why Mary was there. She was sent ahead of time to receive Him. Next to Mary, He could experience the limitations of human beings to the fullest. A baby is not able to do much but understand that Mother that will care for him and guide him while infancy lasts. “Am I not here who Am Your Mother? Do you need anything else?”
It looks bleak out there, isn’t it? All seems to be bad and getting worse. The night of the miracle of Tepeyac, Juan Diego is filled with thoughts of infirmity and death. He decides to take a different route to avoid seeing that Lady at the hill. Juan Diego needs to make it to town to see a priest that will give his dying uncle the Last Rites. But Mary will have none of it. She goes straight to Juan Diego and asks him what worries him. He answers:
“Although it grieves me, I will cause your face and your heart anguish: I must tell you, my little Girl, that one of your servants, my uncle, is very ill. A terrible sickness has taken hold of him; he will surely die from it soon.”
To that, the Virgin Mary responded:
“Listen. put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightened you, the thing that afflicted you is nothing: do not let it disturb you: do not fear this sickness nor any other sickness, nor any sharp and hurtful thing. Am I not here, I, who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you; do not let your uncle’s illness pressure you with grief, because he will not die of it now. You may be certain that he is already well.” (And at that very moment his uncle became well, as they later found out.) (Taken from the Nican Mopohua)
Today we are filled with the forebodings of sickness and death. We may think that going to Mary Most Holy at this hour may distract us from finding a solution to our problems. Big mistake. Mary is the solution in the same manner that she was a solution to the illness that beleaguered Juan Diego’s uncle. Think of it.
This is the hour to look up to Mother Mary. She is the Mother of our peace. May she always remain close to us and bless us, surrounding us with her love as only a real Mother can do. Seek the hollow of her mantle, abandon yourself to her care in the crossing of her arms. God trusted Himself to her. We can do the same.
A blessed Christmas to you, dear reader.