Solemnity of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
These readings may take on a little more significance in the light of Pope Francis’s comments to a question on his flight back to Rome after World Youth Day. He was asked about the role of women in the church. His thoughts immediately went to Mary and her role as the Mother of Jesus and her place in bringing about the foundation of the early church. He went on to say that the church needs to develop a theology of women that will give them their rightful role in the life of the church. Do we really understand the implications of the church as the bride of Christ and Mother of the Church?
The scriptures for this feast of the Assumption is a place to start.
As the ark contained the tablets of the Commandments, so Mary’s body contained the Savior of the world, the Son of God. In a vision of transfigured glory John sees a woman with child surrounded with the lights of heaven: the sun, the moon and the stars. She gives birth to a son destined to rule the nations. The reading concludes with the resounding proclamation that salvation has come and God’s kingdom is firmly in place.
Paul notes that Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of our hope for eternal life for our whole person, body and soul. The Church believes that Mary’s assumption is the first realization of the full impact of Jesus’ resurrection.
Luke recounts the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. Among the riches of this familiar passage we have an answer to why we call Mary blessed. Ordinarily we think Mary blessed because she is the Mother of God.
She has been assumed body and soul to heaven where her son has crowned her queen. But Elizabeth puts it at a more fundamental level, before Mary conceived Jesus. "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." Mary believed in God’s promises to her and to her people. May we have that same faith ourselves, faith that God’s kingdom has come and faith that we are destined for glory body and soul. May we proclaim as Mary did that "… the Almighty has done great things for us…"
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.