“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you.”
In these words from the prophet Zechariah, we hear an echo of what in the Bible is known as the formula of the Covenant: “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” This is the Covenant, the “deal” as it were, that God made with His original chosen people of Israel: He would protect them, and they were to worship Him alone. This Covenant was a marriage covenant: God took His people Israel as His bride, to protect her and provide for her, and through her He would bring His life into the world.
But in this prophecy from the prophet Zechariah, we see something new: many nations will be joined to the God of Israel and will become His people, and He will dwell with them. Not just one nation, not just the race He originally chose, but now all nations, all races, can be a part of His people, because membership does not depend on birth but on faith.
This prophecy, of course, He fulfilled in His Son Jesus Christ. His Church demonstrates the fulfillment of this prophecy: many races, many nations, many languages, united in the one family of faith. In the image of the Morenita, we see our Mother carrying God’s Son in her womb. Yes, she is our Mother, too, for God’s Son came to reconcile us to His Father and make us all sons and daughters of God, his brothers and sisters. His Father, God, is now our Father, and so his Mother, Mary, is our Mother. What joy it gives us to call her our Most Holy Mother!
In the image of Guadalupe we see a mother, and we see a woman. This calls to mind for me a reflection on the image of our Lady of Guadalupe that Pope Francis gave to the group of bishops from California that I was a part of almost two years ago now, when we were in Rome for the “ad limina” visit, the visit that bishops make every five years or so to Rome to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to visit at the different departments of the Vatican, and most especially to have an audience with the Holy Father.
Pope Francis told us that in the Morenita we see a woman: the new Eve who crushes the serpent under her feet as God prophesied to the first Eve that her offspring would do. He told us that we also see a mother: she is about to give birth, and so bring more races and languages into God’s family.
A Mestizo Church
But he told us that there is a third aspect to the image of Guadalupe: her countenance is clearly that of a mestiza. It is right that she is mestiza, he told us, because her Son is mestizo: he is a mix of divine and human. This is the fulfillment of the marriage covenant of God with His people: the marriage between God’s divinity and our humanity, so that we may be united with God forever in heaven.
The Church he left behind shares the mestizo race of her founder, as she fulfills the prophecy of Zechariah. The mixed races of the Universal Church is seen clearly in miniature here in our own Archdiocese, comprised as it is of so many races, nationalities, languages and traditions.
It was a new race, a new Christian people, that the Morenita came to reveal and build at Tepeyac: Spaniard and Indigenous, two nations joined together and joining themselves to the Lord, to be His people, so that He may dwell among them. And this is the greatest grace that God has given in making His Church mestizo: the human members of the Body of Christ share in the divinity of its head, Jesus Christ.
Jesus took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary to share in our human nature so that we, poor human beings that we are, might share in his divine nature. A mixture of divine and human: this is the life of the believer, who worships God, receives His divine grace through the sacramental life of His Church, and puts it all into practice through a life of virtue and works of charity.
What joy it gives us to honor and celebrate our most Holy Mother through whom God made all this possible. She is truly “the highest honor of our race,” and in her we see the fulfillment of the life of grace in God: our human nature sharing in God’s divinity, resplendent with His glory for all eternity. Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!
The above comes from a Dec. 6 release issued by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
To listen to archbishop’s homily (begins at 24:20) in Spanish, click here.