August 15, 2010Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
1 Cor 15:20-27a
Lk 1:39-56Mary Visits Elizabeth
39Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
46And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;/ 47my spirit rejoices in God my savior./ 48For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;/ behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed./ 49The Mighty One has done great things for me,/ and holy is his name./ 50His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him./ 51He has shown might with his arm,/ dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart./ 52He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones/ but lifted up the lowly./ 53The hungry he has filled with good things;/ the rich he has sent away empty./ 54He has helped Israel his servant,/ remembering his mercy,/ 55according to his promise to our fathers,/ to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”/ 56Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.MARY’S PRIVILEGE
High above the beautiful image of the Blessed Mother at the chapel of the Society of Saint Paul Retreat House in Ariccia, Italy, are Latin inscriptions. The words form a litany of accolades for Mary: Conceived without sin, Mother of God, Mother Ever-Virgin, Assumed into Heaven, Mediatrix of Graces, Mother and Teacher, Queen of Apostles. This litany of titles makes us realize how greatly the Church—the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church—reveres the Mother of Jesus.
In fact, the feast we celebrate today is one which our brethren in the Eastern Church have long observed with great solemnity. They call this feast “The Dormition of the Blessed Mother,” since in essence it commemorates how Mary passed on from this life to the next without having to go through corruption of the body in death. She “slept” and was taken up body and soul to heaven.
This belief may not be directly witnessed to by any text of the New Testament, but the Jewish tradition in the Old Testament admits that persons used by God in a powerful way were, at the end of their lives, accorded the unique privilege of being “zoomed” up to heaven. The Jews believe that such is the case for Moses whose grave is said to be nowhere (cf Dt 34), for Elijah who was taken up in a chariot of fire (cf 2 Kgs 2), and for Enoch (cf Gn 5:24).
The Blessed Mother’s privilege of being taken body and soul to heaven, in the thought of theologians, is first because of the fact that her body was indeed the immaculate vessel that bore the Mystery of the Incarnation. Mary is the New Eve that gave birth to the New Adam. It is then proper that she witness to God’s gift of life, full and glorious.
The gospels, however, consistently proclaim that blessedness is not simply due to blood or natural relationship with Jesus (cf Mk 3:31-35; Mt 12:46-50; Lk 8:19-21). True blessedness is rather the fruit of a relationship of faith, that is, being a partner of Jesus in hearing and doing the will of the Father.
Here is found the deeper reason of Mary’s exaltation: her identification with Jesus in fulfilling the Father’s will. Her words in the gospels, though few, witness to the alliance that Mary has with Jesus in doing the Father’s will. At the Annunciation, Mary declares her fiat: “Let it be done to me according to the Father’s word.” In her visit to her cousin Elizabeth, Mary sings her Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” At Cana, where Jesus performs his first sign, turning water into wine, Mary gives the instruction, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The feast of the Assumption is, then, about Mary’s reward as servant of the Word of God. In the same way that Jesus, servant of the Father’s word, was exalted for his obedience (Phil 2:5-11), so Mary, the handmaid of the Father’s will, is now also honored.
Mary assumed into heaven is a feast for us, too. The First Reading assures us that Mary is our “type” as the Church. When amid pain and danger, like a woman in labor, we give birth to God’s Word, God’s eternal reward also awaits us.Source