The three titles attached to last Monday’s holiday call us to an examination of consciousness. We need to reflect on our national history, personal identity and faith tradition. Columbus’ multi-purposed trip proved his perseverance and determination that eventually led to nation building and the simultaneous dehumanizing of the native people and suppression of their nations and cultures. Renaming the day Indigenous Peoples Day reminds us of past transgressions and calls us to acknowledge those peoples on whose land we stand. Finally, some use the day to celebrate Italian heritage. Faith calls us to truth, to acknowledge our full heritage, our individual strengths and weaknesses and our common bonds.
When she appeared to Saint Juan Diego, our Blessed Mother’s dark complexion and clothing demonstrated her solidarity with the indigenous people of Mexico. As Patron of the Americas, she reminds us that in Christ we are all brothers and sisters. Recent discussions in Congress and in a number of states have suggested that discussions of racism and other injustices in our nation’s history will result in further divisions, but as Catholics we have a tradition of acknowledging transgressions and grace, and, guided by the Spirit, we can move toward peace.