Drawing on natural images common to the Arizona landscape, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted compared St. Juan Diego to a “pincushion cactus,” which is so small that its flower hides the body of the cactus in springtime. Unlike the huge saguaro cactus, which can grow beyond 50 feet tall, the pincushion catches the attention of the viewer by its diminutive beauty.
Such “littleness and simplicity” was the key to St. Juan Diego’s service to God and his mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, said Bishop Olmsted, who is the head of the Phoenix Diocese. He offered the Votive Mass of St. Juan Diego on Friday morning, the second day of the Knights of Columbus International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe.
When Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego and gave him a message for the Bishop of Mexico, to build a church on the hill of Tepeyac in her honor, the humble native told her to find someone more noble to bring the message. But the Blessed Mother knew that only humility could open the heart of the bishop and serve to heal the divisions between the Spaniards and the native population, Bishop Olmsted said.
“Because he was humble, he was able to put aside his own affairs respond to Our Lady’s call,” said the bishop. “When she called him, he had to respond with the grace of perseverance and the gift of humility.”
Using the image of the pincushion cactus, Bishop Olmsted said, “He did not delight in calling attention to himself. He delighted in calling attention to God, and his beautiful mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe.”