Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months
and then returned to her home.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption, when Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. Some people may say, “This is not in the Scriptures anywhere!” But as Catholics we believe in Tradition (with a capital “T”), which means that we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to work and reveal God to us since the Bible was written. This makes sense when you think about it. We certainly don’t believe that the Holy Spirit stopped working back in the 4th century, do we? Of course not.
The Catholic Church venerates the Sacred Scriptures as paramount to our faith. The Scriptures are a revelation of God’s love for His people. The Scriptures were assembled in their present form in the 4th century. So we believe that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal God on a regular basis. And the Church also uses it wisdom to discern through the ages other ways that the Holy Spirit has revealed God to us. This is our Sacred Tradition. This tradition is not just a bunch of practices that happen because “we always do it that way.” No, we trust that the Church is inspired by the Holy Spirit and guides us to discern all forms of God’s revelation to us – predominantly in Scripture and Tradition.
Although this celebration of the Assumption of Mary has been celebrated in the Church for centuries, officially it was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950, only 62 years ago.
In the early Church, this feast of Mary being assumed into heaven was celebrated all over the Christian world. It is not only a celebration of Mary, but of the power of Jesus Christ. Just as we believe that Jesus ascended into heaven, we believe that Mary, the greatest disciple of Christ and the one who bore Christ in her womb, was assumed into heaven by the Father to be with her Son for all eternity. Mary was the first tabernacle of Jesus, the one chosen by God to be the “God-bearer”. What a special privilege Mary has been given among all people. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
St. John Damascene, who died in 749AD, writes beautifully about this feast day. “It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was necessary that she who had carried the Creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was necessary that the bride espoused by the Father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was necessary that she, who had gazed on her crucified Son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving Him birth, should contemplate Him seated with the Father. It was necessary that the Mother of God should share the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.” (From the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII, 1950)
I thought this was a beautiful way to describe what we believe about Mary. And the joy of this feast is that if we too unite ourselves with Jesus and the will of the Father, we can expect to spend eternity with Mary gazing upon her Son. In fact, Jesus said, “Who are my mother, my brothers, my sisters? The one who hears the word of God and acts on it – that person is my mother, my brother, my sister.” This gives us all hope in the resurrection. And we say in the Creed: “…we believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting….” Amen!
Am I listening to the word of God and acting upon it in my life?
Do I believe that God can do anything, including preserving Mary from sin and assuming her into heaven, body and soul?
Do I live my life with the hope of the resurrection and everlasting life?
Have a great day!
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