Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption

Homily for the
Solemnity of the Assumption
August 15, 2013
Rev 11: 19; 12:1-6, 10
Luke 1: 39-56
Christian Brothers, Iona College, N.R.

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars” (Rev 12: 1).

Our Lady of the Valley Church, Orange, N.J.
“Who is this woman clothed with the sun?” we might ask.  Within the context of Rev 12, the sign is not clear.  Consequently, scripture scholars have proposed Israel, the Church, and the Virgin Mary as this woman.

If one interprets the woman to be either the Israel of old, or the new Israel which is the Church, one interprets the woman to be God’s holy and resplendent people.

Or else one interprets the woman to be Mary, the type or model of God’s holy people, resplendent as the mother of the Redeemer.  Obviously this is the interpretation that the Church means for us to take today.  Mary is the woman who comes from among God’s people and has “a place prepared by God” (12:6)—a place in heaven as the 1st among the redeemed; a place in salvation history as the one whose fiat made the redemption possible; a place in our hearts as one who cares for us with a mother’s love.

Mary has come to this place because she is a woman of faith.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled,” Elizabeth proclaimed (Luke 1:45).  Mary is the 1st to believe in the Gospel:  to believe that God, through her Son, would show his mercy from generation to generation to those who fear him; that he would exalt the lowly and fill the hungry and do great things for all of us (Luke 1:49-50,52-53).  As the 1st to believe, she is rightfully the mother of the redeemed as well as of the Redeemer.  A special place with Christ and Mary is prepared for every believer, and so she remains “a great sign in the heavens.”

Mary is glorified not for her own sake but for the sake of God’s people, whose member she is, whose type she is, whose helper she is.  She is glorified for the sake of God’s glory in Christ:   “the glory of God is man fully alive” (Irenaeus).  Christ’s victory over death is God the Father’s victory; Mary’s victory over death is the 1st fruit of Christ’s victory:  “in Christ shall all be brought to life, each one in proper order” (1 Cor 15:22-23).

In celebrating the heavenly glory of Mary, we glorify God in Christ, who won the victory; and we anticipate our own final redemption as part of God’s holy people.  This final redemption of ours is foreshadowed not only in Mary’s assumption into heaven but also in this Eucharist of the Lord, who promised us, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54).

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