Unimaginable Holy Light
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn,
beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun,
fearsome as celestial visions?
Song of Songs 6:10
These words surely can be said about the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In her image to St. Juan Diego, she is filled with the holy light of God.
We may only rarely take the time to notice the elements that Juan related about the person who appeared to him on a Mexican mountain early on a morning in December 1531. He describes a cosmic event. The image was aglow with a light brighter than the sun, and all the vegetation and rocks shimmered with liberating light.
What do the elements Juan describes say about the person who stood before him? Perhaps Mary presented herself as a reflection of the Garden of Eden, a figure full of unimaginable light that transformed everything around her. As part of my 2021 columns on Marian apparitions, in March I discussed in detail what Juan Diego saw, referring to the book Our Lady of Guadalupe: A New Interpretation of the Story, Apparitions, and Image by Fr. Jose Luis Guerrero (© 2008 Liguori Publications). This vision of intense light announces to us that Mary is being sent to proclaim the light and glory of God.
To better understand the meaning of the event on Tepeyac Hill, it is important to center on the words of Juan Diego’s descriptions, including, “Her aura was as of a precious jewel, like jade and the very earth seemed to ripple in splendor, shining like a rainbow in the mist.” The light in and around Mary is the light of God, not the light of Mary. She confirmed this in Luke when she identified herself with these words: “I am the servant of the Lord” (Luke 2:38, English Standard Version). Other Scripture versions say “handmaid,” a synonym for “servant.”
In the Guadalupe event, Mary is a servant and prophet of the Lord. She announces to Juan the light, glory, and mercy of God toward humanity. I encourage you to take time to reflect on this description. It contains a deep meaning of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Indeed, I encourage you to ask yourself, “What does this reading of the apparition say to me? What insights come to mind as I meditate on the symbolic awareness of the transforming of the natural elements surrounding the vision?” As you rest in contemplation of these questions, I ask that you pray this prayer:
Holy Light of Guadalupe,
open my eyes to see
the light and holiness of God
in and around me! Amen.