There was no one on this earth closer to Jesus than Mary. She bore him, nursed him, raised him, initiated in a motherly fashion his public ministry, held him in her arms as he was taken down from the cross, and she was with the Apostles in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Mary’s, like Jesus, was also Immaculate Conception. When her time came to leave this life, who better than Mary to have experienced the “singular participation in her Son’s resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1997, 966)?
Today we celebrate the official dogmatic constitution issued by Pope Pius XII in 1950, the Assumption of Mary, a special grace she received from her Son. Jesus is the promise and Mary is the hope that we will live eternally with our heavenly Father, for Mary is now where we will one day be, body and soul. Today is a day of great joy!
Jesus and Mary have undone the sin of Adam and Eve. They, in their continual faithful life of saying yes to the will of God, opened up heaven for us. In our darkest trials, when the storm clouds of pandemic, injustice, racism, and violence gather, when a situation or conflict does not appear to be getting any better, when death may be imminent, and/or when a loved one has died, even then, death does not have the last word.
He [Jesus] replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk 11:28).
Mary is not blessed so much because she gave birth to the Son of God but because she heard the Word of God, pondered it in her heart, acted upon, and put it into practice. This is why the Church calls Mary a model of discipleship. Mary is like the finger pointing to the moon. We are not to focus on the finger but what the finger is pointing to. We can also use the image of the Moon for Mary. The moon does not radiate because of its own light but reflects the light from the Sun.
Mary points us to her Son and encourages us to do what he tells us to do. She radiates the light of Jesus in her thoughts, words, and actions and we are to do the same such that when people look at us they see the love of Jesus radiating through us.
Our present situation of the pandemic has shown us that there is much that is beyond our control. Yet, what we have available to us no matter what is our freedom to choose. Jesus not only modeled for us how to treat each person with respect and dignity but he will also empower us to think, speak, and act with kindness, understanding, and love, just as Mary did.
Stain glass of the Assumption of Mary at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA