Seeing Mary and Christ in Those on the Margins of Society

Millennial writer Meghan Clark writes:

A Mary who radically accompanies the oppressed, marginalized, and vulnerable is most clearly represented in the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. “Guadalupe,” as theologian Nichole Flores notes, “comforts those on the margins of society even as she equips them for action.”

This tradition has also led to many contextualized icons of Mary, Jesus, and the Holy Family. In Mother of God: Protectress of the Oppressed, artist Kelly Latimore offers a powerful Madonna and Child as Central American migrants clad in a silver mylar blanket behind a chain fence. In September I processed behind this icon with several hundred fellow Catholics in prayerful protest of ICE policies in Newark.

Resistance to enculturated images of Mary, Mary with Jesus, the Holy Family, or simply Jesus is often a symptom of underlying racism or ethnocentrism. Resistance to the sacred image is a proxy for resistance to encountering our brothers and sisters.

“Beauty unites us,” reminds Pope Francis. “It invites us to live human brotherhood, countering the culture of resentment, racism and nationalism which is always lurking.” When we let go of our expectations, we open ourselves to our neighbor, to a deeper relationship with Miriam of Nazareth and to her Son.