Feast of the Assumption – God’s Gift through a Special Woman
The Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15. This feast has ancient roots and is celebrated throughout the Christian community. Some speak of the Assumption of Mary, others of the Dormition (going to sleep), the Commemoration, or the Passing of Mary.
In the Roman Church, today’s readings begin with the vision from the Book of Revelation (11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab)of the woman clothed in the sun with the moon beneath her feet and a crown of stars on her head who appears in the sky. She is in labor and threatened by a great dragon. The woman gives birth to a boy who is caught up to Heaven to rule the nations, while the woman finds refuge in a safe place in the desert.
The second reading is from the first Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Paul (15:20-27) speaks of Jesus as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” and notes that the last enemy of God to be conquered by Christ is death itself.
Finally, Luke’s (1:39-56) account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth treats us to Mary’s hymn to the great love of God, the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord… 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…”
Through Mary, God came “to the help of his servant Israel,” remembering his promise of mercy, “the promise he made to … Abraham and his children forever.” Today we honor her for her faithful response to God’s call and pray that we too (descendents in faith of Abraham) may be faithful in our response.
Like the woman in the reading from the Book of Revelation, women around the world today and their children face many dangers. May we, like the angels who protected her and her child from the dragon, act to protect women and children from the dragons that threaten them today, including violence, hunger, lack of education, and poor access to health care.
Through the “yes” of a young woman, Jesus came into our world, becoming the one through whom death would be overcome. May we too answer “yes” when God asks us to participate in the works of the Kingdom.
Like Mary, may we receive the courage to believe that God is really in charge when it seems that the desires of the powerful will once again outweigh the needs of the poor and vulnerable — and act accordingly.
As we evaluate the many possible paths into the future that we as a nation may choose, may we listen carefully to the voice of God within our hearts, rejecting fear-based choices and instead choosing to work for the good of all.
Painting by Peter Paul Rubens, currently in the Cathedral of Our Lady (Antwerp) – Public Domain