August 21, 2022
Indeed, a great day the Most Holy Trinity has blessed us with. Today in Zimbabwe as in many other countries, mother church keeps the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Today we celebrate the completion of God’s triumph in Mary, the triumph she won over death when she was glorified in heaven. Ultimately what we are celebrating is the assumption of Mary, “body and soul” into heaven, a dogma of the Church declared in 1950.
The first reading clearly speaks of a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet; an image, a vision and a sign of God’s triumph in Mary. Clearly, the Gospel passage culminates this triumph by raising emotions of joy, love, union, oneness, wholeness, blessedness, appreciation, faith, and many other emotions that acknowledge the triumph of God in Mary. Mary is taken up by God, as John in the womb of his blessed mother Elizabeth join in celebrating the humility shown by their Creator in their lives. As a result, St Paul joins in in the second reading by acclaiming and proclaiming loudly that “Christ is the first fruit, then those who belong to Christ, and importantly Mary being the first of those.” Indeed, it is God’s triumph over Mary, a marvel we cannot comprehend with our senses. There is a need to let the heart reach these depths of great blessedness, this beauty incomparable to in the life of Mary; indeed, Mary is truly favored as the Angel Gabriel first spoke, “Hail to you, favored one of God.”
Saint John Damascene, the interpreter of this tradition “assumption of our Lady” makes an eloquent comparison between the high privileges conferred on the Mother of God in general, and her bodily Assumption:
“It was and indeed fitting that she who in giving birth had preserved her virginity unspotted should keep her body incorrupt even after death…that she who bore the Creator as a child in her bosom should have a dwelling place with God…that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heaven… should behold him seated with the Father, should enjoy the privileges of the Son and should be honored by all creation as the Mother and the handmaid of God”.
Clearly St. John Damascene is calling us to realize and try and understand why mother church celebrates this solemnity. Furthermore, the Assumption of our Lady, calls us to meditate on this blessedness, on these great events that the mother Church through the working of the Spirit of God must be held still to deepen our faith and to strength our love of neighbor and God. These events must bring life. They bring to our attention and to our awareness that God loves us and is always there for us. As we are His creatures, just like the Israelites we must be holy as he is holy (cf. Lev. 19:2). As we keep this feast let us be aware that Mary is praying with us and for us. More importantly, this dogma like all dogmas, is liberating. Making one go deeper just as irrigation channels guide the water where it is needed so that a harvest will come. The word “no” can lead to new discoveries as much as “yes”. Good theology says no to bad theology. This usually leads to a deeper spirituality. We need sound mysteries of faith to contemplate, to consider and celebrate. Mary’s Assumption into heaven opens new horizons to the mind and imagination in prayer and a holy desire to discover more the life to come.
Lastly, devotion to the Virgin Mary is not just a more intense version of devotion to a saint. True devotion to Mary is on a higher plane of spirituality. With Mary as our mother, the Church and her doctrines are vivified, the church is closer to us and we to her, to know why God would want her assumed into heaven.
Luke 1: 39-56
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
The Gospel of the Lord