Cycle [C] Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Rev. 11:19a, 12:1-6ab, 10ab; 1 Cor. 15:20-26; Lk. 1:39-56

Today, we are commemorating the Feast of the "Assumption of Mary." This Marian Doctrine was defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. Through this Doctrine, the Catholic Church proclaimed that when the course of her earthly life was finished, Mary was taken up body and soul into Heavenly glory. When the Catholic Church addressed the Doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, it was aware of the fact that both, Enoch and Elijah, were physically taken to paradise from this world. Considering that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the mother of God in His incarnated human nature and she was free from all stain of original sin from the moment of her conception, the Church concluded that it was appropriate to define that Mary was elevated in glory and honour above all the prophets, the apostles, the saints and the angels of Heaven. The Church has believed in Mary’s Assumption for centuries, although it was only proclaimed a dogma in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.

Today's reading from the Book of Revelation describes a woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.

When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, he lost his inheritance to eternal life. His soul, spirit and body, and those of his descendants, were called to experience physical and spiritual death. St Paul wrote, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a man; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” The promise of God for a savior was realized through Mary.

In history we read of many queens and great women who have committed their lives for saving their people. They fought for their people and even sacrificed their life for their people.

Sybil Ludington was a 16-year-old girl who set out to help her father's regiment against British attack. On April 26, 1777, Ludington heard that the British forces were planning an attack on Danbury, she decided to reach her father, Colonel Henry Ludington, so he could prepare his 400 militiamen to respond. She rode through soaking rain, alerting troops along her way, warning the people of Danbury, and even fighting off a highwayman with a stick as she rode. While her efforts helped to force the British to return to their boats. 

Harriet Tubman had a key role to play in wartime. When the Civil War broke out, Tubman saw a Union victory as a key element to ensuring the abolition of slavery throughout America. Tubman joined the Union forces and urged their officers to see escaped slaves not as "contraband” but as people who could aid their cause. Her efforts helped to free over 750 slaves.

When Sparta was menaced by King Pyrrhus in the 3rd century BCE the main body of the Spartan army was away on campaign. The council of the city wished to send the women away to safety.  But Queen Arachidamia led the women of the city to construct a defensive wall and during the battle they took part by pulling the wounded from the field. Their action saved the city.

Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, rose in rebellion against the British Raj in 1857. When the Indian Revolt broke out the Rani became their leader. Dressed in a man’s uniform Lakshmibai fought beside her soldiers and died in the thick of combat.

In the Bible we see Deborah emerging as an exceptional military leader. Fearless and obedient to God, she led the Israelites to victory and out of bondage. After suffering brutal oppression under King Jabin of Canaan for 20 years, the Israelites’ prayers for freedom were heard by the Lord through Deborah.

To save the Jews from destruction, Esther had played her role. In history Esther is not only a queen but a liberator. Her sacrificial love for her people makes her stand out as someone who used her power for good.

Today we are celebrating the feast of a queen who had surrendered herself totally for the liberation of mankind. From the time the Angel brought the news to her that she was going to be the mother of the savior, through the difficult moments of Jesus’ life until the Cross and then in the life of the early Christian community Mary remained as a queen and mother. When Adam and Eve were ruling the whole creation their dominance was lost due to the disobedience of Eve. Centuries later this was regained by Mary, the queen of creation. In the litany we praise her as Queen of angels; Queen of patriarchs; Queen of prophets; Queen of apostles; Queen of martyrs and Queen of virgins and Queen of all saints. She stands as the queen of Heaven and Earth.

Mary teaches us that to become God‑like, to be divinized, we must begin by being very human, accepting from God our condition as ordinary men and sanctifying its apparent worthlessness. Mary who is full of grace, the object of God’s pleasure, exalted above all the angels and the saints, lived an ordinary life. Her life is example for us that our little worth is no obstacle because God chooses what is of little value so that the power of his love be more manifest. The purity, humility and generosity of Mary are in sharp contrast to our wretchedness and selfishness. To the extent that we realize this, we should feel moved to imitate her.

First, we should imitate her love. Charity cannot be content with just nice feelings; it must find its way into our conversations and, above all, into our deeds. Our Lady did not merely pronounce her fiat; in every moment she fulfilled that firm and irrevocable decision. She was aware of the needs of the people around her. When she came to know that her cousin Elizabeth was in need of help, she rushes to her. In the marriage at Cana, she realized that the family was in trouble as they were short of wine. Immediately Mary came to their rescue. She spoke to Jesus on their behalf and commanded the people to do as Jesus said.

Second, following her example of obedience to God, we can learn to serve. Our Lady listens attentively to what God wants, ponders what she doesn’t fully understand and asks about what she doesn’t know. Then she gives herself completely to doing the divine will: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word.” Mary’s greatness lies in the fact that she was humble before God and surrendered herself to God. 

We look on Mary as our heavenly mother, who loves us a great deal and who watches over us to protect us. She is the mother with whom we can share every joy. She is a mother to whom we can take every sorrow. She is the mother to whom we can tell our helplessness. She is a mother to whom we can take our problems. We remember Jesus’ words as he was dying on the cross; he said to Mary, ‘Woman behold your son’, and to John he said, ‘Son, behold your mother’ (John 19:26-27). We have always regarded this little incident as being symbolic for us: as Jesus was dying on the cross gave us his mother to be our mother also.

Today as we are celebrating the glorious assumption of our Queen mother, we should remember that because she surrendered herself so much to God, God filled her with his presence and God will fill us too with his presence when we surrender ourselves to God.