Year C: Luke 1: 39-56
Mary, the mother of Jesus, has always held a place of honour in the Catholic Church. Countless generations of people have asked her to intercede for them She is seen as virgin, mother, queen, but, most frequently as Our Lady - i.e. not just any Lady - but our very own...one of us...
Today’s feast was only defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII - but the tradition of Mary’s Assumption into heaven - body and soul - is deeply rooted in Church tradition.
It is hardly surprising that people wondered what would have happened to her? Could God let the body that had brought His Son to birth become corrupted in death? For many people, that was unthinkable - and the tradition of the “dormition” - or falling asleep - of Mary was seen to answer the question.
The Church teaches that, from her very conception, Mary was set apart to be the Mother of our Saviour. In 1854, Pius IX defined the dogma of the “Immaculate Conception”, saying that she had been preserved from the stain of original sin. When officials asked Bernadette Soubirous (now, St Bernadette) to ask for the name of the woman who appeared to her - the woman replied “I am the Immaculate Conception”
Again, the teaching has developed because of Mary’s unique relationship with Jesus - with God. As the one who was to bear the Son of God into the world, people felt sure that she would have been set apart - how else could she be worthy of such an honour.
Elizabeth says in today’s Gospel: “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” If she was so honoured by a visit from the mother - how much more honoured and blessed was the woman who was carrying the One who was to be the Saviour of the world!
Mary cannot have had any idea of what lay ahead. She had said “yes” to future that must have frightened and confused her - and yet, she still said “yes”. The dark hours of the crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart - but also opened the way for other mothers - fathers - children - anyone in agony of soul to know that there was someone close to God who understood their anguish - and who would pray for them.
Today’s feast celebrates the triumph of life over death - won for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Mary’s assumption foretells our own - the day when we are received into the Kingdom of heaven.
It is a day to join Mary - Our Lady - in celebrating the great things that God has done for her!
What does it mean for me?
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