Having received the news from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin who was of old age had conceived, Mary put down everything that had been occupying her and went forth, as the Gospel account tells us, “in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth. The journey was not an easy journey, as the Gospel also tells us that she had to travel across “the hill country” to get to where her cousin was. (Luke 1: 39- 43). Mary, the Mother of God, Theotokos, bearing in her womb, the King of kings, could be said to be a royal dignitary of the highest order, and as the Ark of the New Covenant, the bearer of Christ, is called the first evangelist for good reason, as she testifies in her word and deed to the fact of bringing the Living Christ to someone else. Of paramount importance as we see through Mary’s example, is that before our evangelistic efforts may speak and resound, is how our mission begins first by “simply carrying Jesus even before there are words or deeds to show him and explain him.” (Swan, 2019)

Evangelisation is embedded deeply into the core and identity of a Christian. We are mandated to deepen our faith, to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” (Matthew 28: 19-20) and to plant the Good News of the Gospel in those around us and in the nations that are unknown to us. Pope Paul VI writes,

For the church, evangelization means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new’ (Revelation 21:5). But there is no new humanity if there are not first of all new persons renewed by Baptism and by lives lived according to the Gospel. The purpose of evangelization is therefore precisely this interior change, and if it had to be expressed in one sentence the best way of stating it would be to say that the church evangelizes when she seeks to convert, solely through the divine power of the Message she proclaims, both the personal and collective consciences of people, the activities in which they engage, and the lives and concrete milieu which are theirs. (1975)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, building on the work of his predecessors Pope John Paul II and Pope VI, saw the pressing need to bring the Good News to both believers and non-believers alike. He noticed that many within the Church had been shaken and tossed about by different ideological storms. In a homily given when he was then Cardinal, “How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Ephesians 4: 14) comes true.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 2005, para. 10). According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, there was thus a pressing need for the Christian

…to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith. In rediscovering his love day by day, the missionary commitment of believers attains force and vigor that can never fade away. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness: indeed, it opens the hearts and minds of those who listen to respond to the Lord’s invitation to adhere to his word and become his disciples. (Pope Benedict XVI, 2011)

Nonetheless, evangelising the Faith to someone may be a daunting task. While in theory, evangelisation simply means the having of a personal encounter of the love of God, and then bearing the joy of this encounter to another person to help this person realise the reality of the Lord’s goodness and presence in the everyday. We may find ourselves questioning our ability to do this effectively. Hence, we need to take a cue from our Blessed Mother Mary. The key is to first find a human connection with the persons whom we are outreaching to. For this purpose, Mother Mary dressed the part. In her apparition as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother Mary takes into account the signs and symbols that would make sense to the indigenous people. The colour of her dress is the colour of dawn and it depicts the dawning of a new era; the nine flowers, represent the nine tribes Aztlán, which made up Tenochtitlán, the capital city of the Aztec empire, now present-day Mexico City; her sash tells the indigenous people that she is of noble descent, and the sash positioned slightly above her swollen abdomen, tells us that she is with child; Mother Mary’s mantle, often being blue green or turquoise represents the natural forces of life and fertility. For Aztec indigenous people, the colours represented the colours of divinity and royalty; The stars on her mantle indicate that she comes from heaven. Interestingly, an examination of the stars on her mantle reveal that the stars are found in the same position as the stars of the winter solstice sky, which appeared before dawn on the morning of December 12th, 1531. Radiating from Our Lady of Guadalupe are sun rays representing the power of God. She also stands on a crescent moon, representing her power over the Aztec god of darkness (Anderson & Chavez, 2009; Chavez, 2006; Kosloski, 2017; Moffitt, 2006). These deep symbolic meanings were only decipherable to the people to whom Mother Mary’s message was needed to be heard. In  other apparitions, such as that of Our Lady of Hope, where Mother Mary appears in Pontmain, France, the symbols of being associated with heaven make their appearance in the deep blue of her gown and the stars on her dress. This time however she is dressed according to French customs and wears a simple crown to indicate her royal status. (c.f. Mayer, 2020) Above appearing in the symbols that were familiar, for Mother Mary, there is an authenticity about how she brings Christ to others. In her encounter with Elizabeth, we see the hospitality of one who has encountered the deep love of God. All her words and her deeds point to the Glory of God. The encounter is not about Mary herself, but a re-direction and invitation to dwell upon God. Such is the tenet of evangelising and re-evangelising. It really is not about us. We act as mere instruments and channels from which will flow the immeasurable graces of God.

By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan



Anderson, C. A. & Chavez. E. (2009). Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love. New York, NY: Doubleday

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. (2005, April 18). Homily of His Eminence Card. Joseph Ratzinger Dean of the College of Cardinals. Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Chavez, E. (2006). Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego: The Historical Evidence. Oxford, England: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher Inc.

Kosloski, P. (2017). The Hidden Symbolism of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Image. Aleteia. Retrieved July 24, 2021 from https://aleteia.org/2017/12/12/the-hidden-symbolism-of-our-lady-of-guadalupes-image/

Mayer, S. (2020, May 30). The Ultimate Guide to Marian Apparitions. Ascension Press. Retrieved July 24, 2021, from https://media.ascensionpress.com/2020/05/30/the-ultimate-guide-to-marian-apparitions/#vatican

Moffitt, J. F. (2006). Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Painting, the Legend, and the Reality. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland & Co.

Pope Benedict XVI. (2011). Porta Fidei (Libreria Editrice Vaticana: Citta del Vaticano). 7

Pope Paul VI. (1975). Evangelii Nuntiandi. NewYork: St. Paul Media. 14.

Swan, B. (2019, May 31). Mary’s Visitation as a Model for Evangelists. Word on Fire Blog. Retrieved July 24, 2021 from https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/marys-visitation-as-a-model-for-evangelists/24215/