December 12, 1531 was a very special day in the history of the Catholic Church and Mexico.
Prior to that, on December 9,1531, a poor and humble Aztec Juan Diego saw an apparition of a young girl at the Hill of Tepeyac, near Mexico City, and he recognized her as the Virgin Mary.
Juan Diego told his story to the Spanish Archbishop of Mexico City, who instructed him to return to Tepeyac Hill, and ask the "lady" for a miraculous sign to prove her identity.
The first sign was the healing of Juan's uncle who was suffering from a deadly illness. Then Mary told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill.
Although December was very late in the growing season for flowers to bloom, Juan Diego found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, on the normally barren hilltop.
Then Mary arranged these in his peasant cloak or tilma. When Juan Diego opened his cloak before the Archbishop on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
With that, and also within a short time, about six million native Mexicans were baptized and Christianity grew from then onwards. It also brought about a reconciliation between the Spanish conquerors and the natives.
Indeed, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is nothing less than a divine piece of art by the divine painter.
Yes, God wants us to know that He is always present among us, not only through the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but also in our Advent preparations, as we prepare for the Word to be made flesh in our lives again.
May we also give Jesus the authority over our lives so that we will be living images of His presence to others.