by Robin Gomes
The mother of God is a figure of the Church from whom we want to learn to be a Church that embraces all the richness and cultural diversity of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, where no one feels ashamed or small. Pope Francis’ exhortation came in his homily at an evening Mass on Tuesday to commemorate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image is enshrined in Mexico City and is venerated all over the world, especially in the Americas.
Reflecting on the Gospel episode of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth after the Annunciation, the Pope drew attention to the sterility and fertility of Elizabeth. In her sterility, the Pope explained, she felt stigmatized and belittled by a mentality that considered her condition as a punishment for her or her husband’s sins.
Juan Diego, the indigenous Mexican to whom the Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531, also felt the same. The Argentinian Pope noted that it is the same with the indigenous and Afro-American communities. Often they are not treated with dignity and don’t have a level playing field; many women are excluded for reasons of gender, race and socio-economic situation; young people receive a low-quality education and do not have the opportunity to continue their studies, or find a job to start a family; many poor, unemployed, migrants are expelled from their land; landless peasants try to survive in the informal economy, and children and girls are subjected to child prostitution, frequently linked to sex tourism.
On the other hand, the Pope said, when we contemplate Elizabeth’s fertility we see her as a fruitful-astonished woman. “In her we understand that the dream of God is neither sterility, stigma or shaming his children, but to make a song of blessing flow in and from them.” Likewise, the mantle of Juan Diego was imprinted with image of the dark-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe with the face of a mixed race, to show that the Mother is capable of assuming the traits of her children to make them feel part of her blessing.
Richness, diversity of Latin America, Caribbean
The Holy Father said that the fertility-sterility dialectic draws our attention to richness and cultural diversity of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, which he said should not only to be cultivated but also defended courageously from any attempt at homogenization that ends up imposing a single way of thinking, being, feeling and living that ends up in sterility. “Our fruitfulness ,” Pope Francis said, “asks us to defend our peoples from an ideological colonization that cancels what is richer in them, whether indigenous, Afro-American, mixed race, peasants or people in the suburbs.