Monday of the third week of Advent, 2022
Working in social service is hard. There are days when someone comes for help, and we’re unable to help them. Problems exist in systems all around us that we do not have complete control over. The brokenness of the human condition is present at every turn. We are tasked with managing services administered to others in need while also trying to care for ourselves, and the families entrusted to our care.
Without God, this work would be soulless.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a significant feast in the Americas. Our patroness! Our Lady. Mama.
Two things strike me as particularly relevant for us in our work on today’s feast. Our Lady is so utterly present, for so many people. Her message of compassion has reached the ends of the earth. She is known, she is loved, she is valued. The Gospel reading for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe reads: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” And proclaim she has!
I am also moved by the part of St. Juan Diego in the apparition stories. When he presented the idea Mary asked of him, St. Juan Diego was questioned and asked to produce a sign that he really saw what he said he saw. There is so much symbolism in this moment. At different times in my life, I’ve been on different sides of that story. I’ve been the one who is not believed. I’ve been the one who has asked for proof. And some days, I’m both. The times I’ve been questioned, it was easy to become defensive. The times I’ve questioned were not always with the best intent. Humans are flawed, and we will always be flawed. In work that can sometimes be difficult, and with work that could be soulless if it weren’t for God, it’s important that we do not separate ourselves from Him or allow the vices we favor to take over our composition.
Just as without God this work is soulless, without Mary, how easily we can fall from God. In all ways, but particularly as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary reaches out to us and offers herself as a vehicle for reaching her Son.
The Catholic tradition of cherishing Mary as the Mother of God is one of the most beautiful aspects of our faith to me. She is real, she is present and she is our mother. I invite you to take up her personal invitation to know her Son on her very special feast day today. Allow yourself to be sustained by God through His mother as we continue to do this work together. Let us allow this faith to transform our vices into virtues. We can strengthen our faith together so we can continue to serve God’s people. Let our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord!
Lacy de la Garza is Director of Parish & Community Relations at Catholic Charities Dallas.