Readings:Book of Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10abBook of Psalms 45:10, 11, 12, 16First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 15:20-27Luke 1:39-56
It is rather infrequent when we get to celebrate Our Lady’s Assumption on a Sunday. Indeed, in spite of it being a Holy Day of Obligation, it is probably infrequent that most Catholics get to celebrate this important solemnity at any time in the Church’s calendar year. Today’s solemnity is something Mary prepared for her entire life, and, more importantly, it’s something God prepared her for from the moment of her Immaculate Conception. Mary was destined, not ‘pre-destined,’ for great things, not because God’s grace overwhelmed her humanity, but because her humanity was fully and completely aligned with God’s will. As God preserved her from the ordinary sins of ordinary people, so Mary grew in the holiness that merited her not suffering the corruption of the tomb, enjoying already a bodily participation in the glory of Christ in heaven.
Marian feasts often have a way of distancing Mary from us, as though God’s actions on her behalf made the human journey easier or less challenging, something that does her a great disservice. While Mary’s holiness was, indeed, extraordinary, her humanity left her just as vulnerable to the same kinds of challenges we face as individuals. Mary’s life was lived making a series of choices which brought her closer to God. Her soul did “proclaim the greatness of the Lord,” and in her God did fulfill His promises to “Abraham and his children forever.” In all the choices Mary made in life there was some vestige of all the struggles we are so familiar with, at least when we are trying to do what is right. We may rightly place Mary on a pedestal, but let us never remove her from the ranks of humankind, for therein lies her true greatness, and it is there that we can find the hope to do what is right more often than not.
Perhaps that is why I see in this particular celebration of Mary an opportunity to provide us with a most important model for the journey we find ourselves on, a journey which threads itself through a political and ecclesiastical morass, and which hangs under the cloud of a real pandemic which just does not seem to want to go away. I dare say, that part of the reason the pandemic does not want to go away is the result of bad decisions. I do not stand in judgment of every decision made, but what I do know is that good decisions will be aligned with what is right and just, with what is true and good. They will not share in the kind of selfishness which we are all too familiar with, for they will be made in light of the common good.
The decisions we must make are new to us, but they are decisions which have been framed and reframed down through the centuries. Countless individuals who were concerned about aligning their hearts and minds with a loving God made similar decisions, and they struggled with those decisions, wrestling with their better angels to do the right thing. Mary can provide us with a model and guide.
We know very little about Mary from the Scriptures, and the feast we celebrate today was the result of theologians catching a glimpse of God’s providential plan. That plan proclaims and declares that the same God who chose Mary to be the mother of His Son, who gave her the privilege with her spouse Joseph to raise the very Son of God in rather unassuming towns in the Middle East, who supported Mary through the allegations which led to her Son’s crucifixion- that same God let her share in a special way in His Son’s triumph over the grave.
May the Mother of God inspire us to align our hearts and souls with the sacred heart of her Son Jesus, and may any and all our decisions reflect that alignment which will show evidence of justice and truth, goodness and beauty, and no evidence of selfishness and pride.