Fiddling with what I sometimes call “the Google machine,” (I heard Rachel Maddow say that about 5 years ago and have used it ever since) I was looking for references to Our Lady of Guadalupe that might expand the focus beyond what we typically find. With thoughts of Pope Francis and his cry to bring the joy of the Gospel to all, to go out from the Church, my fingers flew. Knowing that the “Google machine” works this way, I was not surprised to find a post written by my friend Eric Stoltz in 2010; it was for his parish website. (Eric is a deacon at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Beverly HIlls.) What I came across was his website post for today’s feast from 2010, when he wrote:
The third gift of Tepeyac deals with issues of authority. In the story, the bishop is the obstacle and the conquered peasant carries the world-changing message. This is why, in my world, when her oppressed children cry out—whether janitors massing at City Hall, or farm workers protesting along a dusty road in California’s Central Valley, or gay and lesbian Catholics marching down Santa Monica Boulevard; anawim [those who are despised by society but loved by God] of every stripe—they always carry an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We know she walks with us. Impoverished, immigrant, indigenous or “intrinsically disordered,” we remember her words of assurance to Juan Diego: ¿No soy tu madre? “Am I not your mother?”
God persistently reaches out to us, often in the the most unlikely places and faces. Today it is the appearance of La Guadalupana, but that is simply one variation. How can we recognize God? How can we hear and believe the invitation? How do we understand authority?
This all makes me think that perhaps it is not the institution that needs to be toppled, but rather our own expectations, and the expectations of said institution. Today we are given yet another reminder that when that happens, change comes with it.
Over and over we are given examples of God’s love, mercy, invitation, embrace, assurance, and hope. This is God’s authority! God seeks our response and God’s expectation is that we will do the same for others. That is our authority!
Today, may we walk with the images of God, breaking in unexpectedly and in unlikely people and places. Today, may we remember that our expectation and God’s expectation may be very different things.