I was looking back to the homilies I have given on this Feast of the Assumption and was astounded at the number of times I have preached on this feast day. Over the 18 years I have been ordained I have preached 7 times in my former parish in Ohio and twice here in Tennessee. I will admit it is getting harder and harder not to repeat myself and I will guess that is why my pastors assigned me this day to preach.
What can I say about Mary that you do not know? I always tried to avoid giving a history lesson about how this feast day came about. I have always considered the task of the preacher is to have the words of scripture touch our hearts so we can know, feel and respond to the love of God.
So what can we say about Mary’s assumption that does all of that. After all she is the Mother of God. We know and believe Mary was specifically chosen and prepared by God to give birth to Jesus. This is not unlike us my brothers and sisters. The scriptures tell us we too have been gifted by God for a specific mission to make Christ gift of salvation known to the world.
So today as we sing hymns to Mary and as we give her the honor due to her as the Mother of God let us not forget our call is not so different than hers. Our lives are not so different than that of Mary. She was not the daughter of a rabbi, a Levite, a Pharisee nor was she educated in the finest traditions of her time. She for all intents and purposes was ordinary. She is the girl next door who grows up to become an extraordinary talented person.
Oh I know when angel spoke to her it said she was “full of grace and that she had found favor with God.” Oh I know when Elizabeth spoke to her she said “blessed are you among women.” Here is the thing about Mary that is something for us to consider about our own relationship with God – we too are blessed. Yes blessed by God because he deliberately and willfully called us into being and at the moment of our conception he gifted us to be his instruments of grace to others.
Mary did not understanding all that it meant to be blessed and chosen by God. Yet even though she did not understand she said yes. She said “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to his word.” She understood the cost of discipleship and yet she said yes. Simeon said to her that her life with Christ would have those moments when her heart would ache. Yet she said yes to her God.
We are too comfortable with our lives and too resistant to change our ways to truly embrace our call of becoming a disciple. We like Mary must be willing to not only respond to the call but remain faithful to the call when the hardships of following Jesus confront us. We must be willing to remain faithful when we are confronted, rejected, and even attacked emotionally and physically. We often will not comprehend or understand but we are to remain faithful to our call to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Her reward for her discipleship was the presence of the Spirit constantly overshadowing her and filling her with understanding, peace and strength to face all obstacles. That is our reward also if we but say yes to becoming vessels of God’s grace.
Her reward was a place with the saints and that is our reward also for never denying Jesus Christ as Lord and looking to Mary as our inspiration and intercessor.