Juan Diego, The Walkin' Man
Yes, the strains of James Taylor’s famous tune “Walkin’ Man” came to me as I was reading about our “saint du jour” today, and you’ll soon see why. Juan Diego was born in 1474 in what today is a part of Mexico City, Mexico. He lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and worker. He was baptized at the age of 50 by a Franciscan missionary, and so began a faithful “walk” with God each day…15 miles to be exact! Every day, and mind you he was in his fifties at this point, Juan would walk to Mass. 15 miles! He is more famous for the amazing miracles he witnessed at the hands of Heaven; Our Lady appearing to him, the roses the bishop asked for blooming in winter, and the magic of the tilma, a stunning work of art painted by Heaven itself on his burlap clothing (which still exists today, defying all scientific comprehension and study). We’ll hear more on that one this weekend - The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But in all this, it was still his walk that struck me. The dedication, the patience, the sheer strength of his character, his obvious passion for the Eucharist….. staggering. And when Mary Immaculate called him to his special mission, he called himself a “nobody.” Wow. The next time we attend Mass and are “distracted” or “bored” or feel we’re not “getting anything out of it….” Or we feel it’s too early, or the preaching stinks, or the music stinks…. think of Juan Diego, barefoot, walking 15 miles through desert terrain to stand, to kneel, and to bask in the glow of that Divine Fire of the Eucharist…. The same Fire of Heaven we are invited to taste every morning, in our parish church, chapel, or city church.
St. Juan Diego, humble servant of Heaven, pray for us... give us some of your faith and your fire of love!