Feast of the Assumption of Mary

Feast of the Assumption of Mary

“The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name."

Those words from Mary’s lips are ingrained in our hearts and minds after years of our praying them daily.  This is what we can hold onto most when we think through all the good things and not so good things that fall into our lives.  No matter the hardships at times, God has truly done “great things” for each of us. 

Mary is often called a Queen – as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm, and as we hear in the book of Revelation from our first reading.  Our pictorial version of that reading is Mary – with the crown on her head and the moon and stars under her feet.

Mary never lived with the “queen concept.”  She had no crown, except the one of thorns on Jesus’ head as she held him in her arms at the foot of the cross.  Mary wore no jewels, except the miracles, healings, and words of forgiveness that she witnessed Jesus give to others throughout the years of his public ministry.  She had no Queen’s Court, except the disciples and others who followed Jesus and later cared for her after Jesus died. 

The stories of Mary’s “falling asleep” – her death – have been passed down through the ages.  It is often referred to as her “dormition”.  This goes beyond Mary's physical death because it also includes the idea that she was taken up to heaven body and soul.  From that, we believe we also will be both Body and Spirit in heaven.  We don’t try to explain it, and we don’t really need to – our belief is enough.

In the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, the oldest Church in Rome dedicated to Mary, there are beautiful mosaics depicting the life and death of Mary.  These represent many of the original mysteries of the Rosary.  The primary mosaic in the Apse of the church, above the altar area, depicts something else. This may be the only existing picture of this anywhere – showing Christ on his throne in heaven, with his mother next to him.  We see this in many of the mosaics in the apses of the ancient and early churches.  This one is different because not only is Mary there, with a crown on her head, but she is seated along with Jesus who is seated.  Additionally, Jesus has his arm around Mary.  When I see that depiction, I tend to think they are smiling at each other.  Perhaps that is why Mary was taken up to heaven, body and soul – because Jesus like any child, longed to be with his Father and his Mother. 

Today we honor Mary as a model for us of a life lived faithfully to the end. As a figure of what we too are called to – to have a place at the table where we will sit with all of the saints and join the banquet with God the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit…. and of course, with Mary.    

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