This article is by Manuel Gómez Granados of the Instituto Mexicano de Doctrina Social Cristiana (12/12/2009). English translation by Rebel Girl.
We know little about Mary. The gospels don't tell us who her parents were, where she was born, how old she was...it has been the artists, novelists, filmmakers, popular religion, the apocryphal gospels and the Church itself which have forged the image of Mary as a quiet, submissive and selfless woman.
The gospels, however, say something else. When the Angel announces to her that she will conceive a son, she shows herself to be mouthy: "How can this be since I have not known man?" (Luke 1:34)
Mary studied liberation theology, or at least it would appear so considering her option for the poor: "He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty handed. (Luke 1:52-53)
Mary, always according to the gospel, was a woman of service and solidarity. In today's terms she would be a volunteer. When she realized her cousin Elizabeth was going to be a mother, she left everything and went to help her. (Luke 1:39-40)
Later, when Jesus was lost in the temple, Mary and Joseph "thinking that he was in the caravan, journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him." (Luke 2:44-45). Mary scolds her Son, while Joseph remains quiet and like a spectator, which shows that Mary was the leader of her household. Just like many Mexican mothers!
And what can we say about the wedding at Cana (John 2). She and Jesus were at a feast in which there was dancing, singing, drinking...they were happy! They sang, they danced! And Mary who was attentive to the needs of others says to Her Son: their wine has run out, help them.
Mary was brave. When they killed her Son because they considered Him to be dangerous to society and the government, She stayed near the Cross accompanied by the women and John (John 19). The other disciples were in hiding.
Mary revealed Herself to Mexicans as Guadalupe -- "She has not done anything similar with any other nation" -- our loving Mother, but with a firm, prayerful, hardworking, supportive character and with complete confidence in God. As She says to Juan Diego: "Am I not here who am your Mother? Do you need anything else?" She doesn't call Juan Diego to mere contemplation much less to laziness, but rather invites him to trust in God and do everything he is supposed to do: “a Dios rogando y con el mazo dando” ("praying to God and striking with the stick").
Today we celebrate Mary of Guadalupe, and beyond any arguments about whether She appeared or not, whether the cloak is painted or not, whether Juan Diego existed or not...the miracle of Mary of Guadalupe is that She continues to be a source of unity for all Mexicans and the base on which our hope rests. We can only celebrate Guadalupe by loving Her Son Jesus Christ and being in solidarity with the poor, but let us not fool ourselves -- solidarity is measured by reaching into our pockets.