The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

From our first reading: “Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you” (Zech 2:15)

When I was in Kenya I remember the first time I saw local artwork portraying Jesus, Mary, the Holy Family. The images were black people that looked like the people among whom I lived. Of course I had grown up with same images – only the faces were white. I can remember thinking of seeing the Kenyan images… “makes sense.”  It made sense, because if we thought about it we all answer that Jesus was of Middle eastern features. But at the same time, we all want to see our identity in the images of Jesus, Mary, the Holy Family, the saints, and all those things that are icons of our faith. Continue reading

The Linguistics of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe.Today it is common to find villages, towns, cities, and even districts in Mexico, Central and South America named “Guadalupe.”  But in the year 1531 there was no such place in Mexico. So, I have always wondered why the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river, and a Marian shrine in Spain. The word itself comes from a mixture of  Arabic and Latin roots. Remember that Spain was occupied in part and whole by an Islamic regime from 720 CE until 1492 CE, hence many words have Arabic origin. The Arabic wadi (seasonal river bed) became the Spanish “quadi” having the same meaning. “Quadi” seems to have been combined with the Latin lupus (wolf) to come up with Guadalupe. Continue reading

A Seasonal Context

This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent and includes the traditional gospel passage from Matthew in which we encounter the “annunciation” of Jesus’ birth to Joseph.  In addition to its biblical context, this reading also carries a seasonal meaning. The Fourth Sunday of Advent always tells part of the story that just precedes the birth of Christ. These familiar episodes set the stage for one of the Bible’s best-known passages, the story of Christmas. This reading, as well as the gospels for the 4th Sunday in Advent in the other years, aligns well with the readings of the seven days of Advent that immediately precede Christmas.  Not only do the readings for the daily Masses just before Christmas include the beginnings of the Gospel infancy narratives (Matthew 1 on Dec. 17-18; Luke 1 on Dec. 19-24), but we again get to hear the traditional “O Antiphons,” at Mass. Continue reading