FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY, August 15, 2021:
How many of you have ever been told, “You’re just like your mother?” I hear this often, and especially since my Mom’s passing a few years ago, I take it as a great compliment as my Mom was my closest friend, and an example of a happy and holy life. I’m proud to be just like my mother. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard this.
As Catholics, we treasure our devotion to the Blessed Mother and this special relationship that Jesus leaves us with His mother. From the cross Jesus said to His beloved disciple and to us, “Behold your mother.” Today’s feast celebrates this wonderful teaching that Mary was assumed into Heaven body and soul when her time on earth was complete. This was proclaimed in 1950 by Pope Pius XII and when you think about it, Mary’s assumption just makes sense. The Assumption tells us that Mary did not suffer the corruption of death the way the rest of us do because she was immaculately conceived without the stain of original sin. Scripture tells us that bodily death is the result of original sin. So, since Mary didn’t have original sin, then she doesn’t suffer its penalty, and so after her 72 years on the earth, she was assumed into heaven, body and soul.
So, what does this have to do with us? Today is more than a commemoration of a moment in the life of Mary; it is also an invitation. Our Eucharistic prayer today says, “The virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection.” The beginning and the pattern of the Church. You see, Assumption is not only about Mary; it's also about you and me. Mary sets a pattern that we are meant to imitate – where Mary has gone, we hope to follow.
From the very beginning, God did not intend us to die. God created us for eternity, for immortality. And, this is where we hear the words, “You’re just like your mother.” What we celebrate in Mary today is what God promises for all of us – eternity and immortality with Him in Heaven. In his encyclical on the Rosary, Saint John Paul II reminded us that we “sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ.” Mary shows us the way to follow her Son and how to reach eternity in our own lives.
In the Gospel we heard, “Blessed is the womb that carried you,” Jesus replied, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and observe it.” Jesus reminds us, it was not Mary’s womb that made her blessed, it is that she repeatedly heard the Word of God and observed it. She said “yes” to what God would ask of her in life. And her “yes” was not only in response to the question of the angel. She continued to say yes to God throughout her life. She raised her son, she followed Him during His ministry, she endured the piercing of her heart by watching her son be tortured and killed, and even after Christ rose and ascended to Heaven, Mary went on saying “yes” to God. She became the spiritual mother to the disciples. Mary became their strength, their guide; the link between Jesus and His followers. She was there in the upper room when the Holy Spirit descended. Mary continued to spread the Good News, to give witness to a life dedicated to God, to help establish what would become the Church. Tradition holds that Mary made it as far as Ephesus and it was there that her earthly life ended. Mary believed in the potential of God to do anything – even the seemingly impossible – from the moment that the angel came to her until the moment of her Assumption into Heaven. Mary trusted that God’s plan would unfold in her life.
And what we see in Mary today, we can see in our own lives. As Mary is assumed, we’re reminded that “we too are just like our mother.” We can achieve the same eternity by hearing the Word of God and observing it. At the School of Mary we learn hear God’s Word and having the courage to follow. It is about obedience; it’s about listening, hearing with heart and mind, and then, of course, following. What God promises in Mary, He promises in us – and that is nothing short of Heaven.
Let us all strive to be just like our mother, Mary. Let us pray today, through her intercession, that Jesus will say of us as he said of His mother, “Blessed are you – all of you – who hear the Word of God and observe it.”
May the Lord give you peace.
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