The Solemnity of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2017
Deacon John P. Allen
St. Mark Catholic Church, Vienna, VA

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The Assumption is the oldest feast dedicated to Mary.

Although the pope did not proclaim the formal dogma until 1950, belief in Mary's Assumption goes back to the very early Church.  In the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine built a church in Jerusalem on the spot where Mary was assumed into heaven.  By the seventh century both the Eastern and Western Churches were celebrating this feast.

As God, Jesus was able to honor His mother in a way that many of us wish that we could.  He preserved her from undergoing corruption after her life on earth ended.  He gave her the unique privilege of sharing the glory of His resurrection fully and immediately.  Mary was united with Jesus throughout His time on earth.  She now shares completely in His glory in heaven.

Since He had chosen her to become His mother, God preserved Mary from original sin.  In conceiving and bearing Jesus, she had the closest relationship possible with Him.  She was the first and the most faithful of the disciples.  The goal of her whole life can be summarized by the words of the Magnificat: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

She and Jesus had a unique bond of love, understanding, and mission.  Consider how much Mary suffered when she saw Him die on the cross in physical, spiritual and emotional agony.

Mary knew how profoundly Jesus loved her.  Despite His unimaginable pain on the cross, He made provision for John to take care of her.  Like Jesus, her entire life focused on doing the Father's will.  She gives us a perfect example of the type of life that God calls us all to.

Pope Benedict has offered a beautiful reflection on the meaning of today's celebration: "The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy.  God has won.  Love has won.  It has won life.  Love has shown that it is stronger than death . . . Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven.  There is even room in God for the body!  Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.  We have a Mother in Heaven.  Heaven is open.  Heaven has a heart."

As followers of Jesus, our Lord and brother, we rejoice with our mother as we celebrate her Assumption.  We also rejoice since Mary's Assumption consoles us and gives us hope as we suffer and struggle on earth.  We are pilgrims on the way to heaven but Mary continues to pray to her Son for us.

Mary's assumption previews our own future joy in heaven.  Pope Benedict commented beautifully on what the Assumption means in our own lives: "By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory.  . . . The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon."

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