The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Solemnity in the Church because, in a real sense, it is a matter of life and death. Death is a reality in this world, and we see it all the time. But, because Our Lord assumed his Holy Mother into heaven, we can see that death is not intended to be our enduring reality. Indeed Our Lord brought his Mother to the fullness of heavenly joy, that joy which we all long to attain, that joy which we all have been promised. That’s the truth that the Church gives us in the Preface to today’s Eucharistic Prayer. It says this:
For today the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of your Church’s coming to perfection…
In today’s Gospel, we hear the wonderful “Magnificat” prayer of Mary, which is part of the Church’s daily evening prayer. Two incredible qualities of Mary come through in her prayer. The first is joy. She is one who not only allowed something incredibly unbelievable to be done in her, but allowed it with great joy. That she did this with joy tells us something very important about who she was. Teilhard de Chardin wrote, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Those who live with joy, true joy, do so because God is at work in them and God is at work through them. Mary knew this from the moment the angel came to her. The second quality we see in Mary’s prayer is humility. She knew this wasn’t about her; this was about what God was doing in her and through her. It wasn’t she that did great things, no, “the Almighty has done great things for me,” she tells us, “and holy is his Name!”
Mary had very humble beginnings, as we all know. She wasn’t of a terribly well-to-do family, as far as we know, and she was a very young girl, probably around 14 years old. Yet even in that humble state, she was called to do great things, or, more precisely, to let great things be done in her. In much the same way, many of us may not feel like spiritual masters, or like we have great knowledge of our faith. But, we may very well be called to do things we think are too great for us. And that’s the truth, really. When God calls us to something, it’s almost always too great for us. But nothing is too great for our God, who can accomplish the redemption of the world with the cooperation of a humble 14-year-old girl. The Almighty did great things for Mary, and the Almighty will do great things for us as well.
Having given birth to our Savior, Mary is also the Mother of the Church. Her life is prophetic in the sense that it shows us what can and will happen to and for us who believe. In her Assumption, we see that God does not intend death to be the last word for any of us. Death no longer has power over us, because of the death and Resurrection of Christ. In Mary’s Assumption, we know that we are not destined for death and corruption, we are destined for life in the world to come, where death and sorrow and pain no longer rule over us. On that great day, death, the last enemy, will be completely destroyed, as St. Paul tells us today. On that great day, the great joy that Mary experienced in the Assumption can be our great joy too, for all of us who believe, and for all of us who allow the Almighty to do great things in them.
On that great day, we can join the loud voice in heaven and say,
Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.