Did you know San Juan Diego’s native Nahuatl name, Cuauhtlatoatzin, means talking eagle?
For the indigenous people of Mexico, eagles represented the sun, an important divine being in their religion, so his name also signified a messenger of all divine things.
But when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac on December 9, 1531 and called him to be her messenger, the humble 57 year old widower felt less than worthy for the role.
I relate to San Juan Diego a lot, and not just because I’m Mexican. Since my conversion, I’ve often felt unworthy to be a messenger for our Blessed Mother and her Son.
As a writer, I’ve been given the beautiful vocation of co-creating stories with God, and I’m always amazed by what we create together, whether fiction or nonfiction. And I question why on Earth He chose me of all people to work with.
There are much more talented, knowledgeable people, or those with more influence and power who surely would do better. And I’m certain there are more saintly people who are truly worthy of working with God in such a beautiful way.
Whenever I’m called to do something significant that I don’t feel qualified for, I worry. I don’t want to let God or Mary or the people depending on me down because of my limitations.
San Juan Diego had similar doubts with his calling.
When he told Bishop Zumárraga of Our Lady’s appearance on Tepeyac and of her wish that a church be built there, he realized the religious leader didn’t believe his words.
The saint urged Mary, or as he affectionately called her, his niña (in English, his little child), to send someone of higher rank and influence to tell the bishop her message. He truly wanted Our Lady’s words to be taken seriously, and he believed someone more dignified than him would convince the religious leader.
However, Mary insisted. Juan Diego was the messenger she chose.
On December 12th, Our Lady directed him to fill his tilma with roses from the summit of Tepeyac and present them to Bishop Zumárraga as a sign.
Upon presenting the beautiful and out of season roses to the bishop, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously appeared on Juan Diego’s tilma, and Bishop Zumárraga finally believed his words. This miraculous event led to the conversion of 9 million Mexicans in the following years.
And it began with the faith of a humble peasant in Our Lady of Guadalupe, his niña, the Mother of the True God. San Juan Diego believed in Mary’s maternal love for him, her Juanito, and that gave him peace and courage to do what she asked.
Sometimes we’re called to take part in things that seem out of our league. And we may even encourage people or God to choose someone else for the task. But those things that seem impossible for us to do are what help us grow. Those are the things that inspire.
When we feel overwhelmed and unworthy, let’s ask for San Juan Diego’s help, for his faith in Our Lady and her Son. Because when we’re chosen as messengers, it’s no mistake.