Reflection Date: August 15, 2021
Daily Reading: Revelation 11:19;121-6,10, 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 & Luke 1:39-56
The Visitation of Mary recalls to us the following great truths and events and what a Christ-bearer should have …
First, the neighbourly charity of Mary. After having heard the Good News about God’s mercy shown to her cousin Elizabeth and more so after her calling to be the Mother of Jesus, she does not remain at home. For she sensed her cousin’s need and sets out to help her, braving her own discomfort and strenuous journey to the hill country. Like Mary, we need to be sensitive to the needs of others, leaving behind our own pride and arrogance.
Second, the joy of John the Baptist and his cleansing. At the greeting of Mary, the child within the womb of Elizabeth leapt for joy and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to bring grace and blessing of the Holy Spirit to others, to whomsoever we meet. We too are called to spread the spirit of joy, hope, love, and peace to others.
Third, Elizabeth reciprocates her joy. The bursting out of Elizabeth with joy says it all: above all God needs to be praised. Elizabeth then praises Mary, by calling her the ‘Mother of my Lord.’ Surely, like Elizabeth we need to see the goodness and beauty in others and rejoice with them.
Fourth, the Magnificat of Mary – a song of joy and gratitude to God for all the great things that are done by the Almighty for her. Like Mary, we need to proclaim our Magnificat of joy and gratitude.
The Mass of today salutes Mary, who in her womb bore the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the world, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Sun of Justice.
For Christians in India, August 15 marks two important celebrations: the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven and Independence of India. These twin celebrations remind us of the great truth of liberation. India’s soul has been craving for liberation from falsehood to reality, from darkness to light, from death to everlasting life.
All these became feasible and real for every human being with the resurrection of Jesus, who is the way, the truth and life. And Mary, the mother of Jesus, was privileged to be the first human being to enter into the promised glory with Jesus. Mary is crowned the queen of heaven and earth, a shining star of true liberation
India became a nation on August 15, 1947. The glorious past of India as the greatest nation in the world politically, religiously and economically was obliterated by around 200 years of British occupation. However, the spirit of the nation was incarnate through Mahatma Gandhi, who restored the pride of mother India through the path of non- violence and self-sacrifice. This great man drew inspiration from the Gospel. Every Indian Christian has reason to be proud of Mother Mary and Mother India.
Assumption of Mary: though the Church has always believed in the Assumption of Mary, the dogma was only formally defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950 in his Bull Munificentissimus Deus. Mary was assumed into Heaven -- taken up by the power of God, like Elijah and Enoch -- while Christ ascended into Heaven under His own power.
The date of Mary’s Assumption is placed from anywhere between 3 and 15 years after Our Lord’s Ascension, and the place from which she was assumed is listed as Jerusalem, though some claim Ephesus as the proper place. St. John Damascene (John of Damascus, A.D. 676 - 754/787) writes: “St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, that Mary died in the presence of the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven. (Sermon II on the Dormition of Mary, By St. John Damascene (John of Damascus), (A.D. 676 - 754/787).”
Mary’s assumption has been acclaimed as a divine gift to her as the ‘Mother of God.’
Just as Mary completed her life as a shining example to the human race, the perspective of the gift of assumption is offered to the whole human race. Mary is offered to us as a model of deep faith and as disciples of her son Jesus, we are called to learn from her example so that our lives too can be offered to God in gratitude just as Mary did, for Him to do great things in the world through us. No doubt, it is a big challenge but our complete surrender to God’s will, like Mary will pave a way for God’s goodness in the world.
Mary’s assumption is “the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection. With Gabriel, the great archangel, let us exclaim, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.”
Let us then make our memory serve as a storehouse of God’s Mother. Let us praise God for what He has done to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, our Mother and let her assumption into heavenly glory fire up our hope of one day also sharing fully in the glory of Christ, her Son. Mary’s assumption is “the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection.
Fr. Joseph Cardozo, SJ | Contributor