Today Catholics across the Americas celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. While the day commemorates Saint Juan Diego’s vision of Mary in 1531, it also celebrates a deeper reality, that of the Church’s catholicity. While the Church had its beginnings in a particular place and time, its message transcends those limitations. The Church is universal for it is the proclamation and manifestation of the good news of Christ. Mary’s appearance to Diego reminds us that God came to liberate all of humanity, not just a select few.
This has particular importance for all Canadians. With over a quarter of our population being recent immigrants and many more women and men with immigrant roots, we are challenged to consider how we welcome the stranger in our midst. For it is in the other that we encounter the living God, as the Canadian bishops reminded us in their pastoral letter on immigration and the protection of refugees. The immigrant community “is a sign of the Risen Christ. When people of different origins are welcomed, God is revealed: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”