Jakarta, 12 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY – Sunday, 12 August 2018)
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)
We sometimes call the prayer Mary says in today’s Gospel the Magnificat, a title we get from the first word of the Latin translation of these verses. Although it is a beautiful prayer, the Magnificat is not an original but a combination of several Old Testament passages, similar to the prayer Hannah said when she dedicated her only son, Samuel, to God’s service (1 Samuel 2).
God’s preference for the poor and the lowly over the rich and the powerful is a theme running throughout the prayer. God confuses the proud and deposes mighty kings, but He looks kindly upon those who are weak and insignificant, raising them to places of honor and giving them their fill of good things.
The Magnificat provides an excellent description of how God has acted throughout history. God constantly chose to work through the least likely candidates. He used Abraham’s old and barren wife, Sarah, instead of a young and fertile maidservant to fulfil His promises that Abraham would become the father of a great nation. He sent Moses, a man with a speech impediment, to demand that pharaoh allow the Jews to leave Egypt. He uses Rahab the harlot to help the Jews conquest the city of Jericho. Later, God took David, a poor shepherd boy, and made him the greatest king of the Jews.
Mary appropriately rejoices in how God enjoys working through ordinary people because she too was poor and lowly. A young girl in her early teens from the small town of Nazareth in unsophisticated Galilee would not dare dream that God would have special plans for her. But God did, and Mary responded affirmatively to God’s power in her life.
Mary did something many women before and after her did – she give birth to a child. The birth was special not only because her child was the Son of God but because she said yes to God’s will in her life. Let’s pray that we, too, will have the courage and faith to say “yes” to whatever God wants of us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to guide and mold us that we can become more like Mary, always open to God’s power in our lives.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 358-359.)
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, 11 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
Saint Clare of Assisi, first woman follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and first Franciscan woman saint, was born in 1194 in the noble family of Favarone at Assisi in central Italy. Her name, Clara in Latin and Chiara in Italian, means clear, shining or bright. One day, just before Clare’s birth, her mother was praying before the crucifix in the monastery of Assisi for her child about to be born when she heard a voice telling her, “Have no fear, woman, you will hear your child safely, and she will be a torch to give a clear light to the world.”
At the age of 15 Clare was deeply impressed by the preaching of Saint Francis and wanted to follow him. Having no provision for any woman member in his Order, Francis kept her in suspense for three years. Then, on Palm Sunday, 18 March 1212, she went to Francis and begged him to admit her into his Order. Seeing her earnestness and determination, he agreed. As suggested by Francis, that night she, with her cousin Filippa, escaped from home by the door reserved for taking bodies of dead members out, and went to the church of Saint Mary of the Angels at Portiuncula which Francis had rebuilt. There, in front of the altar, she renounced her costly clothes and beautiful hair, and received from him the Franciscan monastic habit, and into his hands made vow of absolute poverty and dedicated herself to following the poor and humble Christ. The thirty-year old Francis who had no money, no means and no canonical authority accepted spiritual and material responsibility for her. Clare was temporarily accomodated at the neighboring Benectine convent. Clare’s father and relatives protested angrily, but she did not change her mind. Soon she was followed by her younger sister Agnes who too is a saint . Clare had won complete victory over her own egoism and the craving for earthly possessions. Having chosen a life of radical poverty and obtained from the Pope the privilege of not possessing anything, she, together with Francis, founded the second Franciscan Order, the poor Clares.
Soon she moved to another Benedictine convent, but was unable to carry on under the Benedictine Rule. Francis then made over to her the church and convent of San Damiano. There she was joined by her mother Blessed Ortolana, her younger sister Beatrice and her aunt Bianca, and several other women. Interestingly Clara thus became the superior of her own mother, aunty and sisters, and they lived docilely under her guidance. In 1215 Francis appointed her abbess. For thirty-nine years Clare lived in the enclosure of that convent. All her life she never crossed the boundaries of Assisi where she lived in rigorous austerity, spending her time in prayer, penance and contemplation. God worked many miracles in answer to her prayers.
In the year 1240 an army of Saracens who were in the service of Emperor Frederick II drew near Assisi. They rushed upon the little convent of San Damiano that lay outside the city and had already sealed the walls of the monastery. In mortal fear the sisters had recourse to their mother, who was ill in bed. Clare, carrying the pyx containing the Most Blessed Sacrament, had herself carried to a convent window. There she pleaded fervently with the Lord of heaven in the words of the Psalmist: “Do not deliver the soul of thy dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of thy poor for ever” (Psalm 74:19 RSV), “and shield thy servants whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.” A mysterious voice coming from the Host said: “I shall always watch over you.” Immediately panic seized the besiegers. A ray of brilliant light which emanated from the Blessed Sacrament had dazzled them. They fell down from the walls and fled from the place. The convent was saved and the town of Assisi was spared.
After suffering from a serious illness for thirty years, Clare felt that her end was drawing nigh. After she had received the last sacraments, she and one of her sisters beheld the Queen of Virgins coming with a large escort to meet her, the spouse of Jesus Christ. On August 11, 1253, she entered into the joys of eternity, and on the following day her body was buried. Pope Alexander IV canonized her already in the year 1255. She was chosen as the universal patroness of television in 1958.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in Your mercy You led Saint Clare to the love of poverty. Help us, by her intercession, to follow Christ in poverty of spirit, so that, in the Kingdom of Heaven, we may see You in Your glory. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 11 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim
Lawrence was a deacon of the Church of Rome and died in the persecution of Valerian four days after Pope Saint Sixtus II and his four fellow deacons. He was buried on the Via Tiburtina at the Campo Verano near to where Constantine the Great built a basilica. He has been venerated throughout the Church from the fourth centtury.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You inspired Saint Lawrence with so ardent a love, that his life was renowned for the service of Your people and his death for the splendor of his martyrdom. Help us to love what he loved and to lie as he showed us. We pray this in the mst precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 10 August 2018
A Christian Pilgrim