Home » Gospel Encouragement – Solemnity of the Assumption – Sunday 15th August 2021

Gospel Encouragement – Solemnity of the Assumption – Sunday 15th August 2021

Dear sisters and brothers,

As we celebrate today’s feast – the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – we are faced with some challenging readings.  They may not be challenging individually, but in the way in which they are grouped together for us as we reflect on the significance of the Assumption.

In the Gospel we have that beautiful proclamation by Mary of her faith in God, the Magnificat.  In the second reading we read that Jesus has paved the way for each of those who choose to follow him to journey with him through death into the resurrection and life beyond death.  And in the first reading we have St John’s apocalyptic vision of the spiritual events that will lead to the end of the world.  You’d be justified in asking, other than the Magnificat, what these readings have to do with the feast of the Assumption.

Well, the answer is a lot, because today’s feast isn’t just about Our Lady.  It’s also about us, and the promise made to us that we will enjoy eternal life with God beyond death.  The focus is on Mary, because, after Jesus, she has led the way through death into the resurrection.  In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 966, we read:

“…the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.

Mary, today then, represents the Church; she represents each of us.  As Mary lived a life of devoted faith to God, so we are called to live our lives in such faith as well.  With her we pray:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour;

…for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is his name,

and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.

…The hungry he has filled with good things,

…He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy

– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –

of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

This prayer of Our Lady is a summary of God’s teaching in the Old Testament and reflects not just her role as the Mother of God, but in many senses, as a prophet in her own right.  She is the model disciple for us to emulate.  It could be argued that she was a disciple of the Messiah before the Messiah was even conceived and, once conceived, that she followed him faithfully to the Cross and beyond.

In the first reading from the Book of Revelation, Mary represents not just herself, but the Church as well.  The twelve stars on her crown represent both the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles upon whom the Church is built.  The child that she carries, Jesus, is caught up into heaven, not after his birth, but after his rebirth in the Resurrection, and she, and the Church as a whole, are scattered to the safety that God has provided, as the forces of evil seek to undermine the ultimate good that faith in Jesus will bring to world.

And in the second reading we see the fulfilment of her life of faith, and our life of faith.  Where Jesus defeated death in his Resurrection as the first fruit of the harvest of goodness that God gave to the world, so we will follow as part of that harvest.  Mary, as the model disciple, who journeyed with Jesus from deep faith, through his conception, to the Cross and beyond, leads us after him into the same Resurrection.  She is the first of the many who will follow him.  Her preeminent place in the Resurrection is our assurance and encouragement to stay faithful, and to follow where Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul and all the saints have led.

So, let’s be encouraged by her faith and prayer again today, and  express, with Mary, her profound faith:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour”

With every blessing,

Simon