August 15, 2010


Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. – Luke 1: 45

Rather than have two different sermons for the Vigil Mass & the Mass of the day, I thought I’d combine the readings from both. In the Vigil, we have the words “Blessed are those who hear the word of God & observe it” (Luke 11: 28). This emphasis on blessedness & belief is common to both the Gospel selections for this feast. Obviously, it was important to Luke. Now, we may believe something on the authority of others, but at some point that belief has to be validated by experience – if not our own, then that of someone we respect. We Catholics have the saints to give evidence of the linkage between being blessed & believing, & at the top of that list would be Mary. She is the model par excellence of what this means.

However, the blessed part may not be obvious at first. She could have been rejected by her husband to be, she could have been rejected by her family or could even have been put to death. Then, of course, there was her front row seat to her Son’s passion. Yet she is full of trust in God & praises God’s goodness & His greatness. There is no hint of “poor me.” She is entirely focused on God & thereby shows us how to be trusting. Her assumption shows us where that trust will lead us.

This means that the most important thing about Mary is not her physical motherhood, but her willingness to do all that God asked of her. That made her more one with Jesus & more like Jesus than anything else. She was the perfect & number one disciple of Jesus in always being willing to do what God asked of her. She remained faithful even during her most bitter trials & challenging moments. Doing the Father’s will was paramount for our Lord even in the Garden of Gethsemane .

In the first reading for the Mass during the day, we have a passage from the book of Revelation. Now, this book is highly symbolic. In the selection chosen for this feast, we hear about a dragon, a child, & a woman. The dragon represents to Devil & the powers of evil at work in the world. The child is Christ.

The woman has a double symbolism. She stands for Mary, the physical mother of Christ, but also for the Church, our spiritual mother, who brings Jesus to birth in us through faith & the sacraments. The woman is rescued from the powers of the dragon & is described in great glory. This too has a double symbolism. It tells of Mary in glory after the assumption. It also tells of God’s people whom He will rescue from evil & will bring, in the resurrection of the dead, into the glory of heaven.

So we honor Mary because God has done so. She was rewarded in a unique way. But today’s feast is also a source of hope for us. Christ came, as He says in John’s Gospel, that we might have the fullness of life. Our faith tells us that our bodies too will share in that fullness. What Mary is allowed to enjoy ahead of time is God’s plan for all of us who are faithful in following Him.

There are those today, as there are in every age, who find all this too fanciful to believe. Yet a great host of witnesses spanning 2,000 years have changed the world because of their belief in it. It is we who are the beneficiaries of such testimony. AMEN!