by Fr Zweli Ngwenya
First reading: Revelation 11: 19a, 12:1-6a, 10a-b
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 45: 10-12, 16
Second reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
Gospel: Luke 1: 39-56
Today we celebrate the feast of the assumption of Mary, raised to the glory of heaven in body and soul. It is significant that Mary sings her Magnificat (song of praise) on an occasion of great fraternal charity. She received the announcement that she would become the mother of the Son of God and she visited Elizabeth. Contact with Mary is an occasion for great graces. The Gospel says that “as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” In this communication of graces, Mary expresses her feelings of gratitude and love to God, who has done great things in and for her.
The Magnificat is a prophetic song, because it announces, in a mysterious way, the exaltation of Mary herself in the event of the assumption. In fact, at the moment of the assumption, she was able to proclaim, with an even louder exultation: “My soul magnifies the Lord … The Almighty has done great things for me.” This song of Mary truly expresses her immense gratitude for the divine work in her. Already at the birth of Jesus, she could say: “The Almighty has done great things to me.” On Calvary, even among the greatest pains for the death of her son, she was able to say: “The Almighty has done great things for me,” because she became the mother of the disciples of Jesus.
Finally, Maria was able to express her joy and gratitude in a definitive and perfect way at the time of her assumption. Then she could truly say: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour, because he has looked at the humility of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed. The Almighty has done great things for me, and Holy is his name.” On this day of the Assumption, year after year, all generations proclaim the blessedness of Mary, her great joy, permeated with gratitude to the Lord. The assumption is a privilege of Mary, because God could not let the body that had received his Son, that gave him the flesh and blood he needed to accomplish the redemption of the world, be left to corruption.
In the second reading, Paul speaks of the resurrection. He affirms that “as everyone dies in Adam, so everyone will receive life in Christ.” But he observes: “Each one, however, in his order: first Christ, which is the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.” We can add that even among those who belong to Christ there is an order. Mary, so closely associated with the life, passion and death of Jesus, deserves precedence over all, and her assumption expresses such precedence.
The first reading, taken from the Apocalypse, reveals the glory of Mary. The author reports a sign that appeared in the sky: “a woman dressed with the sun.” In fact, this woman dressed with the sun is said to be pregnant and screaming for labor. However, the glory of Mary is described with this great image: “A woman dressed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” The text speaks of the struggle with the dragon, which represents the devil, the power of evil, and says: “The dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, to devour the new-born baby.”
This makes us think of the episode of the massacre of the Innocents by Herod: The baby Jesus was wanted dead; this was a diabolical fact; but God protected his incarnate Son, who was to bring about the redemption of all men in the fullness of his humanity. Mary appears here as an occasion for the triumph of God, because the Lord has protected her. The text says: “Now the salvation, the strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ have been fulfilled.”
Returning to the Gospel, we can say that Mary assumed in heaven does not stop visiting the earth. The Visitation marks the destiny of Mary in a very lasting way. We know that Our Lady has appeared so many times, to give Christians the confidence to be guided to God in a very secure way. She comes to help the weak, to heal the sick, to invite everyone to conversion, so that in the end we can reach her in heaven. Mary glorified does not abandon us, rather she is very close to us. Therefore we can live in joy and trust.