Homily for August 15, 2017 Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - A
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
How often are we offered a “free sample” as an enticement for something that is to come? We see movie trailers months before a movie comes out; we receive discount and other promotional things in the mail – especially email; and we’re offered samples of food at grocery stores – you can almost get a full meal at Sam’s or Costco on the weekends.
I see the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary like that. Not like unwanted email or advertising, but it is a sample of the promise made to us all of everlasting.
Why is the Assumption important to us today? Those who are not Catholic point out that the dogma expressing her Assumption and Queenship in heaven was only put forth by Pope Pius the 12th in 1950. Yet celebrations honoring the Assumption go back well over 1000 years before that – around the 5th or 6th century – and the understanding of Mary’s role as the Mother of God goes back even farther, to the earliest days of the Church. It has been a fundamental truth of the Church.
And so we honor Mary, and we see in her Assumption what we can one day expect ourselves. More importantly, Mary’s life was and continues to be an example to us all of what it means to be a disciple of her Son.
We see that in today’s Gospel. It begins with Mary serving as the first evangelizer for Jesus. How? By seeking out her cousin Elizabeth and bringing Jesus to her. The mere presence of Jesus in Mary was enough to fill Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit and caused John in her womb to leap for joy. And after Elizabeth exclaims her blessing to Mary, Mary responds with her Magnificat.
Interestingly enough, the Magnificat is prayed every night by clergy and religious during vespers, or evening prayer. And the prayer isn’t one of Mary bragging, but one in which she points out the glory of God. It reminds me of Hannah’s prayer in the first Book of Samuel where she prays with the prophet Eli after the birth and consecration of her son Samuel to the Lord. She begins with, “My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted by my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in your victory.” It goes on further to say, “The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry no longer have to toil.” Hannah gives glory to God as she brings her son to Eli to serve God; Mary gives glory to God as she brings Jesus to Elizabeth in service of God.
We as Catholics believe in life after life; we have a mission now as well as one in the future.
Mary had a mission then, and she still does today. It can be seen in the single line from John’s Gospel at the wedding at Cana: “His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” That is Mary’s message to us today, and she continues to convey that message as seen in the dozens, if not hundreds, of her apparitions around the world. Fatima, Portugal. Lourdes, France. Tepeyac, Mexico. Knock, Ireland. The list goes on and on. And each time Mary appears, she takes the appearance of the people she visits, as a living creature, a promise to us of our future as well.
All of the apparitions have something in common: Mary points us to Jesus; she calls us to prayer (usually the Rosary); and she encourages us to pray for peace. Today, members of the Knights of Columbus and their families around the world are praying for their respective countries as they an Order-wide Day of Prayer for Peace and Reconciliation. Join with them today – and every day – in praying for world peace.
In the Book of Revelation, we hear of the Queenship of Mary: “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
As our Queen Mother, Mary doesn’t replace Jesus – she guides us to Him and encourages us to bring Him to others, like she did with Elizabeth. And so, let us bring Jesus to all we meet, and – take time tonight to pray the rosary for peace.