My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (Lk 1,46-48). Thus begins the hymn, the Magnificat. Through it, Mary becomes the first “teacher of the Gospel” (CELAM, Puebla, 290): she reminds us of the promises made to our fathers and invites us to sing the mercy of the Lord.
Mary teaches us that, regarding the art of mission and hope, lots of words and programmes are not necessary. Her method is very simple: she walked and she sang.
This is how the Gospel presents her to us after the annunciation of the Angel. In haste – but not anxiously – she walked toward Elizabeth's house to accompany her in the last trimester of her pregnancy; she walked in haste toward Jesus when there was no wine at the wedding feast; and with hair already greying with the passing of years, she walked toward Golgotha to stand at the foot of the cross: on that threshold of darkness and pain, she did not evade it nor did she run away, she walked in order to be there.
She walked to Tepeyac to accompany Juan Diego and she continues walking the Continent when, by means of an image or holy card, of a candle or a medal, of a rosary or a Hail Mary, she enters a house, a prison cell, a hospital room, an old age home, a school, a rehabilitation clinic... to say: “Am I not here, who am your mother?” (Nican Mopohua, 119) She more than anyone knows how to draw near. She is a woman who walks with the delicateness and tenderness of a mother; she feels at home in family life; she unties one knot or another of the many wrongs we manage to generate; and she teaches us to remain on our feet in the midst of the storm.
In Mary’s school we learn to keep walking to reach places where we need to be: on our feet, standing beside so many lives that have been lost or have been robbed of hope.
In Mary’s school we learn to walk through the neighbourhood and the city, not with slippers delivering magical solutions, immediate answers and instantaneous results; not with the power of fantastic promises of a pseudo-progress which, little by little, succeeds only in usurping cultural and family identities, destroying the vital fabric that has sustained our people, with the pretentious intention of establishing uniformity of thought.
In Mary’s school we learn to walk the city and nourish our heart with the multicultural richness that dwells on the Continent; when we are able to listen to that hidden heart which beats in our peoples and which guards—like a smoldering fire under what appear to be ashes—a sense of God and His transcendence, the sacredness of life, respect for creation, the bonds of solidarity, the joy of the art of good living, the capacity of being happy and to celebrate without conditions—this is how we understand what America is at its roots (cf. Encuentro con el Comité Directivo del CELAM, Colombia, 7 septiembre 2017).
Mary walked and Mary sang.
Mary walks bearing the joy of someone who sings of the wonders that God has done in his lowly servant. As she passes, like a good mother, she rouses the song giving voice to so many who, for one reason or another, felt that they could not sing. She gives the word to John—who leaps in his mother’s womb. She gives the word to Elizabeth—who begins to bless; to elderly Simeon—and makes him prophesy and dream, she teaches the Word to gibber his first words.
In Mary’s school we learn that her life was marked not by protagonism but by the capacity of making others be the protagonists. She offers courage, teaches how to speak, and above all encourages the living of the audacity of faith and hope. In this way, she manifests the transparent face of the Lord who shows His power inviting participation and calling us to construct His living temple. This is exactly what He did with the lowly Juan Diego and with many others to whom, removing them from anonymity, gave them a voice, made known their face and story and made them protagonists of that story, the history of salvation. The Lord does not seek self-centered applause or worldly admiration. His glory is in making His children protagonists of creation. With a motherly heart, Mary seeks to raise up and dignify all those who, for different reasons and circumstances, were immersed in abandonment and oblivion.
In Mary’s school we learn the protagonism that does not need to humiliate, mistreat, despise or mock others in order to feel valuable or important; that physical or psychological violence do not need to be resorted to in order to feel safe and protected. It is a protagonism that does not fear tenderness or signs of affection, and which knows that its best face is service. In her school we learn authentic protagonism, to dignify all who have fallen, doing so with the omnipotent power of divine love which is the irresistible power of His promise of mercy.
In Mary, the Lord silenced the temptation to give protagonism the strength of intimidation and power, to those who scream the loudest or who assert themselves on the basis of lies or manipulation. With Mary, the Lord watches over believers so that their hearts do not harden and that they might constantly know the renewed and renewing power of solidarity, capable of hearing God’s pulse in the hearts of the men and women of our peoples.
Mary, “teacher of the gospel”, walked and sang on our Continent and thus, the Guadalupana is not only remembered as indigenous, Spanish, Hispanic or African-American. She is simply Latin American: Mother of a fertile and generous land in which everyone, in one way or another, can be found playing a leading role in the building of the holy Temple of the Family of God.
Latin American son or daughter, brother or sister, without fear, sing and walk, as your Mother did.