Only a few possessions survived during our downsizing and transition to our new home in the Midwest. We hung three paintings in our master bedroom – Jesus, Mary and two curly-haired angels. I noticed Mary peering out from behind a candle partially covering her body when I woke up this morning. I usually see Jesus first when I open my eyes because His painting is in plain sight just above His Mother. Today was different. Even Mary's face seemed peculiar. Her grin was telling me she was hiding something. The truth is Mary has been hiding something for a long time. It's a message for our world and it has to do with her Son, Jesus.
Scientists are using modern technology to uncover some amazing discoveries related to an event that took place in an obscure place almost 500 years ago when Mary appeared to a thirteen-year-old boy. She told the teenager she wanted a church built in her honor. When the local bishop asked the boy to give him proof, Mary told the boy to bring the bishop some roses. It was well past the growing season and the roses weren't native to Mexico. The boy headed off with a cloak full of flowers to see the bishop a second time. When the two met, Juan opened up his Tilma and the flowers dropped to the ground, revealing an image of Mary on the cloak. It turns out there's more to the story.
Scientists have been trying to figure out why this garment made from a cactus plant is so durable. Upon closer inspection, there is something highly unusual about Mary's eyes. Photographers from our era discovered there is a reflection in the eyes that mimics human eyes. An ophthalmologist enlarged the image by 2500x and claimed he found evidence that Mary's eyes reflected the exact moment when Juan Diego opened up his cloak and spilled out the roses in 1531.
Whatever you may believe or not believe about Mary, there is one thing she does want you to believe. She wants you to believe in her Son. He is coming. Maybe that's why Mary appears to be grinning at me when I look at her image on my bedroom wall. I feel a connection to her. I feel a connection to her Son. And I will be reminded of her every time I drive by that tree stump on Interstate 80 near mile marker 231 that looks a lot like Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here is the photo I shot of the tree stump on December 12, the 482nd anniversary of the day Mary gave proof to a skeptical bishop: