Dodge: The Reality of Re-Creation
On December 9, 1531, Juan Diego, a poor Aztec, was on his way to morning mass when he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary near what would become Mexico City. The woman in the vision told Juan to ask his Bishop to build a church on the site. When the skeptical Bishop asked for a confirming sign, Juan returned and asked the lady to confirm her identity. She said she would provide a sign the next day.
Juan did not return because his uncle became mortally ill that day. Two days later, Juan went looking for a priest to give his uncle last rites. Juan passed by the site and the woman was waiting for him. She told him the very improbable news that his uncle would be healed, a prediction which turned out to be true.
She instructed Juan to gather some flowers in bloom nearby (an odd event since it was freezing cold in winter) and bring them to the Bishop. When Juan returned to the Bishop, he opened his cloak, causing the flowers to fall to the ground.
Juan was shocked when the Bishop and his advisors immediately took a knee before him. On the inside of his cloak appeared an image of the Virgin Mary which had not been there before. This image became known as “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” The shrine which was built there has become one of the most visited religious pilgrimage sites in the world.
In 1977, the image was tested using infrared photography. To this day, no one can explain how it was produced, the pigments used or why it has lasted. Even more remarkably, an ophthalmologist examined the eyes of the image at 2,500x magnification and found the figures of no less than 13 different individuals in them. Apparently, the microscopic images in the eyes are exactly proportional to how a human retina would have seen them.
In its aftermath, almost the entire nation of Aztecs converted to Christianity. One scholar has suggested the nearly seven million people who converted were the equivalent of the three thousand conversions at Pentecost every day for seven years.
Long ago, Isaiah described what salvation would be like. He wrote, “Then shall the lame man leap like a young deer and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isa 35.6).
What Isaiah is describing is the hope of re-creation, the setting right once for all of what God has made. What Isaiah tells us is that the scope of God’s plan for redemption is cosmic. God will set His creation right so it can glorify Him as it was created to do. Or, as the Psalmist puts, it, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork (Ps 19.1).
Live in the hope of re-creation. We may only catches glimpses now, but a world made right awaits those who abide in Christ.