Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This feast in honor of Mary’s Assumption into heaven has been celebrated in the eastern and western churches since the fifth century. There is no direct scriptural reference to Mary’s assumption. The Church presents us with images and allusions from the Book of Revelations. As the Ark of the Covenant carried the stone tablets of the Law, so Mary carried in her womb the Messiah and Son of God. As Israel was the glory of God and the Messiah was a descendant of David, so Mary, the women clothed with the sun, brought forth Jesus. As Israel was overrun and occupied by the Romans, so Mary’s child would face the huge dragon, the personification of evil. God would protect the child and bring him to his throne and the reign of God would triumph.
In the letter to the Corinthians Paul celebrates the resurrection of the Christ. He is the first fruit to be followed at his coming by all who belong to him. Implied is that Mary, his mother and closest follower, doesn’t have to wait. The glory of the Son is the glory of the Mother.
Luke recounts the visit of Mary to Elizabeth. Her heart is revealed in her prayer of praise and thanksgiving, the Magnificat. When we are asked, what is Mary’s prayer? we sometimes say it is the Hail Mary. Yet really that is our prayer to Mary. Her prayer is here in Luke’s gospel. It is her sense in the overwhelming greatness of God, her Savior, who has looked on his lowly handmaid. It is her recognition that God in his mercy has done great things for her. So Mary teaches us the prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Do we recognize that God has done great things for us? Do we thank him each day from the bottom of our hearts?
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.