The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today's feast of the assumption celebrates and proclaims that Mary the mother of God, kept free by God from all sin and its damage was, at the end of her life, taken up body and soul into heaven, to become Queen of heaven, so that as on earth so in heaven, everything we say about Our Lady only makes sense in the light of Christ her Son, King of Creation, conquer of sin and death, living in eternal glory at the right hand of the Father.
It's clear from the Gospel that the church has always had a great honour for Our Lady. St Luke quotes Elizabeth, speaking for the whole church, 'of all women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Blessed is she who believed".
And Mary's prayer, the prayer of the Mother of God, of the most blessed of women, is a prayer everyone of us can make. It is a mother speaking from knowledge of her children and their difficulties. I am a lowly handmaid, but I trust in the greatness of God my saviour, he will rout the proud, he will exalt the lowly, feed the hungry, his promise will be fulfilled. Our Lady's prayer is that justice will be done.
This is so much our prayer, offered with Mary, because the Assumption hasn't taken Mary from us. She has gone to God and God in so near to us. Turn to our Lord in prayer, recognise him in the scriptures and at Mass, receive him in Holy Communion, and there is Our Mother, even closer to him now than she was when she carried him in her womb, cared for him at Nazareth, stood beneath his cross, accompanied his body to the grave, and rejoiced in the Easter gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
Is this not why that throughout the whole world where people suffer, where people have hopes, where people need help, we see them in different ways turning to Our Lady. Because she offered the same prayers, she spoke with utter faith and trust in God's promises, she brought into the world the one who on the cross would fulfill those promises, and because she is now with him in glory.
Mary gives us the example of prayer in difficulty, of trust in God, of being with God, but she also reminds us that always God is with us. And she reminds us in a completely human way. She carries God in her womb. There is space in us for God, and as in Our Mother, so God's presence in us is what brings us faith, hope and love, and lets us hold onto and deepen these virtues even in time of difficulties and struggles. And we let God's presence grow within us by saying with Mary, 'be it done unto me according to they word' anticipating the words of our Lord in Gethsemene and the words we say each day in the Lord's Prayer 'thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'.
The first reading today in that famous image of the dragon and the woman giving birth tries to hint at the many ways Our Lady is at the heart of our faith. The Ark of the covenant contained the tablets with the Ten Commandments the guarantee of the Old Testament. Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant who carries Christ the guarantee of the New Testament. In blessed Mary, Israel, the chosen people, bring to birth the new covenant, the church, though not with out the devil, the dragon, trying to destroy it on the cross, In Mary we see an image of the Church on earth, the faithful followers of Christ, safe, but struggling in the dessert of this world as, like the Israelites, we journey to the promised land.
We all hope for better things. And many things speak to of us of a better world. Buy this car, get this mortgage, get this job, eat this food, discover this drug, follow this economic policy and the world will be better. Whether this world will get better and how long it will last none of us really know. What is certain is that a world that forgets God, or that tries to keep God away can't become better but gets worse. As Mary proclaims only the presence of God, only the saviour Jesus Christ can save the poor and humble the mighty, can fulfill the promises, can bring justice and save us.
Only the presence of God can guarantee a good world.
One thing we proclaim today, our hope is certain: God is waiting for us, we are expected. Coming to him we will find our Mother Mary, we will find our loved ones, we will find Eternal Love. God awaits us: this is our great joy and our great hope. Mary who is with the Lord, Mary with whom the Lord is, Mary visits us as she visited Elizabeth, bringing Jesus to us the joy and hope of our life.