HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY:
Readings: Revelation 11:19; 12.1- 6, 10; 1 Corinthians 15: 20 – 27; Luke 1: 39 – 56
Dear brothers and sisters today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. The center of the Marian cult, as has been constantly emphasized by ecclesial tradition, is the divine motherhood of Mary in which heaven and earth, divine and human, intermingle without confusion or separation; in which the incarnation of God is celebrated. In the expression “Blessed is the one who believed, we can almost find a key that unlocks the intimate reality of Mary, because authentic Marian spirituality is the doctrine of faith and the life of faith”. This affirmation of John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater invites us to place at the center of this solemn liturgy that hymn Elizabet addresses to the mother of Christ in visit and Mary’s famous Magnificat.
It is precisely to these two hymns that we will now devote our brief reflection. Elizabet’s song is basically made up of a blessing and a beatitude. “To bless” in the language of the Psalms is to proclaim the great works of God, especially towards the poor and humble. It is precisely in this woman, Mary, and in the “fruit of her womb” that the salvation offered by God to the world is hidden and revealed. Elizabeth’s praise continues in the voices of all the faithful who over the centuries sing in Mary and in her Son, the Savior, the source of our hope and salvation.
This song of Elizabeth contains the first beatitude of the Gospels, it is intended to Mary as a believer. In a certain sense the blessing exalted the physical motherhood of Mary, the beatitude celebrates her spiritual motherhood because what happens in the womb of the Virgin does not belong to the normal biological mechanism of human generations; it has the seal of the Holy Spirit in it. Therefore, Mary too must believe to understand herself and her mission.
To use the expressions that will resound years later in the Gospel, “blessed is the womb that bore Christ and the breast that suckled him”, but Mary is much more blessed because “she listened to the Word of God and kept it” (Lk 11: 27-28). Here, then, is the profession of faith of the mother of Jesus, manifested in her song, the Magnificat, that song of Mary who celebrates the mystery unfolding in her: “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, He has looked with favor on his lowly servant, all generations will call me blessed, the Almighty has done great things for me…..” In that song of Mary, the whole community of the faithful, the “anawims (poor) of the Lord”, that is, those who have as their only support not pride and power but the love of God stand united in prayer. The solemnity of the Assumption is the representation of the destiny of the true “poor of the Lord”, those humiliated and ignored within history, but exalted in the fullness of life with God.
This hymn of Mary sealed by the glory of the Assumption also shows what is the definitive outcome of divine actions. God’s honor and glory are eternal and not cracked by anxiety and death and are meant for the humble and righteous of the earth. Therefore, even if we live in darkness, in the triumph of arrogance and injustice, God already spreads his perfect and effective plan for our salvation. Even if God seems apparently absent and lets the wicked rage, he patiently weaves his plot over time leading the righteous to glory.
To understand the glorious state of Mary we can intuit the condition of the body after the resurrection as described by Paul in chapter 15 of the first letter to the Corinthians. While admitting a certain continuity between the mortal body and the risen one, the apostle insists on their diversity through four antitheses: It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, (1Cor.15:42-44). Applying this doctrine to the Assumption of Mary, we must recognize four characteristics of her body: 1) Incorruption, which indicates victory over death and decomposition in the sepulcher. 2) The Glory, which expresses both the splendor, like the stars (Dn 12,3,) and the presence and saving action of God in history (Jn 1, 14; 2, 11). 3) Power, which designates the strength of the Holy Spirit, capable of communicating new life and performing effective and marvelous works (Rm 15, 19; 1Cor.12, 4-11; Gal 3, 5) and finally, 4) Spirituality, which indicates the entire human person of the Virgin under the full transforming sovereignty of the Holy Spirit.
The Magnificat is, therefore, a song of confident hope, it is a hymn of serene certainty, it is the canticle of the Assumption after the darkness of death and the tomb, it is the liturgy of Mary’s Easter, after that of her Son. Now, we who believe may face in our lives suffering, passion, hunger, humiliation, death, and sepulcher; but the day of light and glory will open for us in Christ. Mary with her Magnificat turns to us repeating the words of the Psalms: “Celebrate the Lord with me, let us exalt his Holy name”. Like Mary, we will rejoice in the Lord for the joy of our salvation.
– Fr Jude Chijioke