It’s August 15th and we once again celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. In acknowledging Mary this way we look back to Jesus’ victory celebration in the resurrection-ascension and we look forward to our own victory-in-Christ in bodily resurrection into heaven. Just as Jesus and Mary are taken, body and soul, into heaven so we are promised that, like them, we continue to live on eternally in the presence of God.
What a promise! It’s what is meant that Christ is the “firstfruits” – He is our promise of eternal life because sin entered into us because of one man (Adam) and redemption-resurrection comes also through one man (Jesus). St. Paul gives us this reminder in today’s second reading in his letter to the Corinthians.
But the focus today is on Mary and her faithfulness to Jesus as his mother. She is the first and the best of disciples of Jesus. Thus we can look to her for a sure response to the presence of God in our world. Her cousin Elizabeth points this out with, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Notice that the context of this greeting is the humble act of familial love shown by Mary, now pregnant with Jesus, going to visit Elizabeth, whose son “leaped in her womb” at Mary’s greeting.
This is extraordinary response to what seems such a simple act on Mary’s part. Mary’s response to Elizabeth quietly yet so strongly acknowledges the incredible grace that encompasses the whole scene: her son-to-be is the reason for the leaping with joy.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Any and all of the graceful responding in this gospel story is due to God’s love and forgiveness. And so Mary, the first and best of Jesus’ disciples, receives wholeheartedly the beauty and bounty of God.
What does this magnificent yet so human a scene say to us? Primarily, that God visits us in the ordinariness of our lives. Here we see a family meeting of two gifted women and the encounter is suffused with the love of God. Then, that God stays with us in our human endeavors as the presence underneath which we move and have our being. Finally, those encounters with God occurring always in the midst of our day-to-day lives are the way that we are saved by God’s tender mercies.
Gracious God, we pray that we open ourselves to your life-giving presence as we make our rounds today. Be with us and lead us to see that, like Mary, we too are amazingly blessed in the ordinariness of our life. Help us to acknowledge as she did the source of that blessing: “the greatness of the Lord.”
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