A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch
Who are you, Guadalupe?
Who are you to me?
And who are you to us?
Legend has you coming to the poor peasant Juan Diego.
Accompanied by heavenly song,
You meet him on the desert mountain they call Tepeyac.
You call him, challenge him, and send him on a mission.
What a mission that is!
Sending a poor brown peasant
off to the halls of power
off to the courts of those who persecute him
off to the people hell-bent on obliviating all that he comes from, all that he is.
What were you thinking?
What were you hoping?
Legend has it, the Spanish bishop left Juan Diego cooling his heels all day long.
Legend has it that it wasn’t until long after dark that the bishop
even deigned to see Juan Diego.
I can imagine the well-clothed, well-fed,
heavily perfumed courtiers
snickering at Juan Diego
making him feel even more out of place, even more out of power.
Did he look around betraying his nervousness with quick jerks of his neck?
Did he spend the time shrinking down into a cloak of invisibility?
Or did he simply sit quietly in resignation and despair saying to himself,
“Nothing good can come of this.”
I can imagine the bishop receiving him with weariness and with dread.
“Another blasted Indian begging for reprieve.”
I doubt Juan Diego was surprised when the bishop asked for proof.
After all—no European ever took the word of a poor native peasant.
What were you thinking, Morenita?
What were you hoping for that day?
No wonder Juan Diego gave you wide bearth when he passed your way again.
I would too.
Truth be told, you frighten me, Guadalupe. Who knows what you might ask of me
coming as you do in the squalor of my life.
meeting me when I am most afraid.
greeting me by name in the moment of my deepest shame.
Who are you and who are you to me?
There are times when I wish that you would just let me be.
But that’s not in your nature--
you’re not made to let folks be.
not Juan Diego
not the bishop or his minions
Guadalupe, you’re not made to let folks be.
You keep on hoping, Morenita, you keep on hoping.
And in your hope, you hallow.
That’s what you were up to that day at Tepeyac. The work of Hallowing.
Hallowing a scruffy desert hill filling it with flowers and with song
hallowing an indian peasant making him a bearer of God’s word
even hallowing a bishop and the sycophants surrounding him
that they might learn to love as they are loved.
That’s your work—the work of hallowing.
Hallowing the desolate places in our lives
Hallowing people others overlook
Hallowing the poor and the powerful
the strong and the weak
hallowing outsiders and insiders too.
I wonder, Guadalupe, is that the work you call us to—the work of hallowing?
Could that be your hope for us?
The Bible is full of hallowing—the hallowing of the lowly ones, the outsiders, the defeated and the despairing; the hallowing of people others overlook, the hallowing of the land and all that dwells therein .
Hear the prophet Baruch tell of God’s hallowing the people of Jerusalem—a people besieged, defeated, occupied. A people who witnessed family and friends—husbands, wives, sons, daughters taken captive. A people cut off from all that sustains. A people not unlike Juan Diego and his people. And yet the prophet Baruch says to them,
Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on
forever the beauty of the glory from God....For God will give you evermore
the name, “righteous Peace, Godly Glory.” Baruch continues, “For God will lead Israel with joy, in the light of his glory, with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.
Hallowing—could that be God’s hope for us?
Not long ago, a member of the congregation of St. Martin’s came up to me with an urgency I’d not seen in him before. He rarely talks to me. When he does, he always prefaces what he says with the words, “Sister, I don’t want to take up your time.” But this day he was determined to have a word with me. The conversation started abruptly.
“They trusted me,” he said as he opened up our conversation. “They trusted me with money.” “Can you believe it—they trusted me a homeless man with money!”
Imagine it. A little thing. Probably not even a given a second thought. Just a simple request. “Can you hold this money for me?” That’s the work of Hallowing.
Hallowing—it happens at the food pantry every single Tuesday.
Hallowing—it happens when folks listen deeply to one another.
—It happens in the little things in life.
Hallowing—it happens when we see, respond and acknowledge God in the one and the world before us.
May the hallowing of God’s name echo through the universe. Amen