|Solemnity of the Assumption
of Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10
Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16
1 Corinthians 15:20-26
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
For those of us who are Catholics, this celebration of Mary in
heaven is so very natural. For those of us who are not Catholics, it
might seem uncomfortable. There's always the question: "Aren't you raising
Mary to the same level as Jesus?" Please bear with me, as I try to
reflect upon what this feast can mean for all of us who believe in the saving
power of Jesus' death, resurrection and gift of the Spirit, especially if
I do so from my Roman Catholic enthusiasm and affection for Mary.
I think it has always been a mis-reading of the Catholic devotion
to Mary, to see it as worship of Mary. I think one of the riches of
the Christian spirit is to find every human, natural, tangible, emotional
means available to support our faith. Down through history, as the form
of the celebration of the Eucharist became more and more "distant" or "transcendent,"
I think the people used a variety of devotions to achieve an intimacy
with our Lord. I would be so bold as to say that the Spirit keeps finding
ways to inspire us with desires for intimacy with our God.
One of the very real human scenes that is wonderful to imagine
is that time in the life of the early community, when Mary died. I have
just buried two close relatives and I have a deep sense of what it is to
say "farewell" to a loved one. Just imagine what a special person Mary
was. Not only did she receive the extraordinary gift of conceiving and
giving birth to Jesus, she raised him, and followed his public life. And,
she was there at the foot of the cross, experienced him as alive in a new
way, and was there on the day of Pentecost. Imagine the words exchanged
between Mary and whatever disciples were around her as she approached her
death. I remember vividly how my family caressed the body of my father
and mother after they died. I can only imagine the very special devotion
her friends and care givers had for her very special body in death.
As we reflect upon the meaning of the resurrection for us - as
we do every time we celebrate a funeral - we are caught in the mystery of
what happens to us after we die, after there is no more life in the body,
when we pass into eternity and time is irrelevant. How does Christ's
victory over sin and death touch and transform our mortal bodies? Part
of why we pray for those who have died is to pray for God's mercy on our loved
ones, in the faith-filled hope that God will forgive their sins and that
"the angels will carry them to paradise." I imagine that it was easy for
believers down through the centuries to be certain that Mary, of all people
on this earth, the one "full of grace," would be the first to be carried
home to the loving embrace of God.
Dear Lord, help us to live our lives with true hope in your gift of eternal life. Take away our fears, comfort us in the trials and crosses of our daily life. Help us to imagine the joy of a great reunion at the Banquet of Heaven. And, please, let our anticipation of that joy free us from the worries and anxieties we face today. Let Mary assist us and guide us on our path to that life in you.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
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