Today we celebrate the Assumption of Mary into heaven; an important feast of the church celebrating the Mother of God. The origins of this feast I have preached on before. I could expound on Mary and her importance in the history of salvation and what her yes means to us. I could expound on the reasons behind this feast despite the fact we have no direct scriptural reference to her being taken body and soul to heaven.
We have two other biblical figures where we can say show us death was not the only way to heaven for those dedicated to follow God’s plan for their lives. Elijah was walking and talking to Elisha when a chariot of fire appeared separating the two men and Elijah was taken up to heaven (2Ki 2:11). We also have Enoch whom scripture describes as “walking in close relationship with God then one day he disappeared because God took him (Gen. 5:24).
So today I wish to have us consider what this feast means for us instead of why we hold fast to the belief that Mary like Elijah was taken up to heaven instead of resurrecting from the dead. If you wish to see some of my other homilies about this feast and its history, please go to the archives under Feast and Holy Days as scroll the list for homilies given on this feast day.
In the gospel during the Vigil mass we hear a revelation given to Luke where a woman from the crowd cries out “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breast at which you nursed.” Jesus response to that statement is why this feast has deep meaning for us and who we are called to be. Jesus says in reply, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice” (Lk.11:28 NLT). This should bring up many other scriptures that speak of us and the Word of God, for instance the parable of the sower.
But let me remind you of another passage that comes a few verses after the Luke 11:28 verse. Matthew in his gospel records Jesus saying, “whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven he is brother sister and mother to me” (Mt.12:50.
These sayings of Jesus are important for us not to have Mary diminish in our dogma nor in our honoring her as the Mother of God, but they are important because they are how Jesus is honoring us. He is revealing a truth about us just as Pius XII in 1950 revealed the truth about Mary’s being assumed into heaven.
The truth Jesus wants us to take into our hearts is we have a role in the continuing message of salvation. Each of us has a mission to bring Christ to those needing the message of God’s love and forgiveness. Mary always understood her mission and her yes brought Jesus to those who were longing for the promise of God. Like Mary we are called to make Christ a visible reality to those who are hungry for the gospel to touch their hearts and open their eyes to the depth of God’s love and mercy.
Like Mary, we need to rejoice in our salvation and proclaim the greatness of the Lord because he had done great things for us. We also need to understand our role in seeking God’s will and revelation for us to fulfill our roles as mother, brother and sister to him. When we do that we will be disciples and bring God’s love to the world Just as Mary did.