The little indigenous man baptized and known as Juan Diego is a model of faith for all Christians.
Holy Mother Mary appeared to him on December 9, 1531, the day after the celebration of the Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is a vital character in the Guadalupe event, but usually our focus is rightfully on the apparition of Mary. I want to explore 3 simple lessons that he taught us through his life and witness.
1. Live with a Giving Heart
Juan Diego was a simple man of little means, but he lived and gave to the Lord what he had. He worked diligently in weaving mats, farming the land, and knew the true meaning of hard work throughout his life. When he was not working on Saturdays and Sundays, he would regularly walk around 15 miles just to receive catechesis and celebrate the Holy Mass.
He endured many trials and suffering, even losing his wife to a great illness. Through it all, He kept his faith, and sought the Lord even more. After his bride, Maria Lucia, passed, he changed his life to live closer to the church and help his ailing uncle. Even when he needed to help his uncle, Juan Diego trusted in Mary to take care of Juan Bernadino in order to fulfil her request.
Juan Diego believe he had nothing to offer or give, but he gave what the Lord asked of Him. He even ended up giving up his tilma (equivalent of a jacket) in order for it to hold the miraculous image. He didn’t worry about whether Mary was going to give him a new one, he just offered without reserve.
After the Guadalupe event, he gave everything to live near the chapel and stay focused on the Lord. Even then, Juan Diego remained a lay Catholic, giving what he could in the life he was given.
2. Always Remain Obedient
We live in trying times, and the very word obedience is seen as a negative. Regardless of what it does to our pride, God asks us to live out obedience.
At the Guadalupe Event, Juan Diego was instructed with a message for Bishop Zumarraga by the Queen of Heaven. When the Bishop didn’t believe him, Juan Diego didn’t get upset or vengeful, he obeyed the bishop. Juan Diego had no doubt that he was right, but he understood the bishop’s role and authority.
It’s important to note that Mary herself remained obedient to the bishop through his questions, doubts, and concerns. We see this consistently throughout the her apparitions across the globe. As the servant of Mary, Juan Diego reflected her faithful obedience, and it she asks the same of us in order to be more faithful to her Son.
3.Humility is Essential to Fidelity
Juan Diego lived in the class known as ‘macehualli’ or “poor natives”. He was one who did not belong to any of the social categories of the Empire such, as priests, warriors, merchants. He wasn’t even labeled as a slave.
“I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”
He found peace in understanding his role as a simple beggar before the Lord. In our modern times, we are quick to see what we do not have and where we fall in rank. Juan Diego found peace in simplicity and a grateful heart. There is a poignant message here for us, especially in the Advent season preparing for Christmas.
“But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-31
Model of a Marian Son
The more we live out a faith in imitation of Juan Diego, the more intimately we can understand the words of our Blessed Mother shared with him.
“ Let not your heart be disturbed… Am I not here, who is your Mother?
Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold?
What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.”
Learn more about Our Lady of Guadalupe