Today’s solemnity celebrates Mary’s Assumption into heaven. It is one of four principle feasts of Mary our Mother. January 1 is the feast of Mary, the Mother of God – celebrating the Marian dogma of Mary as Theotokos, Mary’s Divine Motherhood, and December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, celebrating the fact that from her beginning Mary was exceptionally holy and in constant union with the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, and that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege from Almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was kept free of every stain of original sin. Pope Francis also instituted in 2018, the feast day of Mary Mother of the Church, to be celebrated every year on the Monday following Pentecost. This feast celebrates how the Church specifically recalls Mary’s reception of the Holy Spirit with the Apostles at Pentecost, as well as her desire to protect all who come to her Son in His Holy Church. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven has long been held as an important Catholic belief and therefore a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics. The belief was not defined as dogma, however, until 1950 by Pope Pius XII. The dogma teaches that Mary, who was without sin, was taken, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.
The Gospel for this holy day recalls Mary’s actions after the announcement of Jesus’ birth by the Angel Gabriel. Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also with child. Elizabeth greets Mary with full recognition of her role and the unborn child will play in God’s plan for salvation. Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greeting with her song of praise, the Magnificat. Both women recall and echo God’s history of showing favour upon the people of Israel.
The readings reflect the turmoil that the underworld is in and its attempt to destroy the plan of God our Father. The devil attempts to destroy, as we can see how Herod tried to do away with the baby Jesus depicting what was written in the first reading. The woman is given the protection by God with the affirmation that the coming of Christ is imminent and that he would conquer all the evil in the world, and the fears, anxieties and hopelessness that have plagued and challenged our faith in Jesus.
In my experience, self-doubt and worries are the evil forces that have plagued my thoughts, especially during COVID-19. I have always anticipated dread that I would not be able to cope with the situation. Like Mary, I have found renewed faith and belief through my involvement in the choir. The songs I had to record gave me peace and tranquillity as I rejoiced and worshiped Christ through the deep-rooted lyrics. Having like-minded choir members celebrating the presence of Jesus is reminiscent of Elizabeth celebrating the birth of Christ with Mary. This event shows the importance of having a supportive community to aid you when times are tough.
Today’s Gospel highlights Mary’s faith. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to all. Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan of salvation.
Lord, help me to do your will joyfully and fearlessly. I want to answer your call with an exultant “Yes!” secure in the knowledge that, as I move into the unknown, my journey will be made radiant by your transfiguring presence. The Solemnity of the Assumption recognises that Mary responded fully to God’s invitation; it invites me to consider what holds me back and to ask for God’s help.
The Magnificat should be our daily prayer, the praise of Mary, spoken in good times and bad. Even at times like the passion and death of her Son, her faith remained strong that God our Father would care of her. In prayer, we can pray our own Magnificat, thanking God for blessings, for good times, for bad times through which God protected us, and for the ways in which we have grown up – in good times and bad. The faithfulness promised to God’s people is also promised to each of us now.
Try today to walk around a place of beauty. Look and listen, smell and touch the beauty of nature. As you walk pray the first lines of Mary’s poem – ‘my soul glorifies the Lord’. Be filled for this time with thanks for all you see, hear, touch and feel of the creation of God.
Written by Ephrem Music Ministry