THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – Sunday, 18 August 2019)
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56
First Reading: Revelation 11:19;12:1,3-6,10; Psalms: Psalm 45:10-12,16; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 15:20-26
The Scripture Text
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has regarded the low estate of His hand maiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home. (Luke 1:39-56 RSV)
Today [August 15 or the nearest Sunday], we celebrate the glorious taking up in heaven, body and soul, of our Blessed Mother Mary. In union with all Catholics on earth, we rejoice on this solemnity of our Mother. As God had preserved her from the corruption of sin, so He preserved her from the corruption of the grave. He took her up into heaven. Waiting for the final resurrection of all bodies on the last day is a punishment for original sin. Mary was kept untouched by original sin and the corruption that follows it.
It was fitting that she who, in giving birth to the Savior, had preserved her virginity unspotted should keep her body incorrupt even after death. It was fitting that she who had borne the Creator as a child in her bosom should have a dwelling place with God. It was fitting that the bride of the Holy Spirit should dwell in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was fitting that she who had shared in the sacrifice of her Son on the Cross should also share in His glory. It was fitting that the handmaid of God should be honored as the Queen of heaven.
Mary is blessed among women. Archangel Gabriel said so. In union with all the loving children of Mary we say, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” The Ark of the Covenant which carried the tablets of the Law was the precious treasure of the chosen people. Mary is the true ark; she carried not just the Law but the Law-giver Himself. How precious must she be in all the ages to the chosen people of God! Mary is the Mother of humanity. Even people of other faiths venerate her. Truly all ages and peoples call her blessed.
Mary is blessed because she heard the Word of God and kept it. Mary is blessed because she trusted in the Lord’s words. Mary is blessed because she is the humble handmaid of the Lord. She submits perfectly to God. She says YES to Him in all things. That is the secret of her greatness and holiness. She never did anything spectacular but gave herself to God in total self-abandonment, and lovingly and diligently carried out her duties of wife and mother. Mary’s assumption is her perfect fulfilment the fruit of her humility, obedience and love. It is also the divine acknowledgement of her perfect conformity with Jesus the Lord. Besides, it is the model of the Church answering the call of the Lord to be with Him in His glory. It is moreover a constant invitation to every Christian to aim at the final fulfilment in heaven.
Mary stands out as a model for all Christians, of what it means to be a partner of God in the work of salvation. In her song (Magnificat) she gives an electrifying expression to the rising hopes of millions to be free from the exploiting, domineering and dehumanizing forces. She is the liberated and liberating woman. She was generous, and went to help her cousin Elizabeth. In the song she sang on meeting her she expresses her delight in God. She acknowledges her own lowliness and God’s greatness, and praises Him. She thanks God for the wonders she did in her. “……for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. …… He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree” (See Luke 1:49,52). How true are these words.
(Adapted from George Kaitholil, SSP, FEASTDAY HOMILIES, Bandra, Mumbai: ST. PAULS, 2006, 2010 (third printing), pages 244-245).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You crowned the Blessed Virgin Mary on the day of her Assumption with a glory beyond compare. You had looked on her lowliness and had made her the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Only-begotten Son. Grant that, by her prayers, we may be saved by the mystery of Your redemption, and share with her in the glory of eternal life. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 17 August 2019
A Christian Pilgrim