Homily for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B), Wednesday, August 15th, 2018:
By Father Scott Karnik
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. It is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church for the past 68-years. Pope Pius the XIIth declared it. Sacred Scripture is silent about this. But God is not. This event speaks loudly of resurrection.
God assumes the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven at her death. She does not ascend into heaven on her own, like her Son, Jesus Christ did. This is something God has done. And God does it for a reason. God does it to show us what He intends for each of us. God wants to take us into the eternal happiness of heaven to be with Him in love. And Exhibit A is the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is what God wants. God loves us that much that He has given us an example of His loving intent, His loving plan.
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s death is an example of the blessed death that is available to us. St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote that the Blessed Virgin Mary died 1: detached from all earthly things, 2: with a peaceful conscience, and 3: certain of eternal glory. The Blessed Virgin Mary died detached from all earthly things because she was united more closely to God. She died with a peaceful conscience because she was always holy and pure. And she died certain of eternal glory because she was always full of grace. She did not squander it. St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote that the Blessed Virgin Mary loved only Jesus. Jesus is in heaven and all of Mary’s desires were in heaven too. So therefore, her peace was only to be united with God. The place and treasure of her heart was God alone. That’s what St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote about Mary’s Assumption is his book The Glories of Mary. The Blessed Virgin Mary is an example of how we must prepare for our own deaths: detached from earthly things, with a peaceful conscience, and certain of eternal glory.
Beyond death, there is resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ, as St. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians. The faithful who died before Christ’s Second Coming will rise at that coming. So the over-arching theme of the readings and of Mary’s Assumption is resurrection.
The gospel from Luke tells some things about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is charitable. She goes hastily to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Mary does so because she has learned that Elizabeth is pregnant. She goes to help Elizabeth. Mary is humble. God is gracious to the lowly and the poor. That is Mary’s response to St. Elizabeth when Elizabeth identifies her as the “mother of my Lord.” Mary says there is no need to compliment her. God deserves the honor and glory. Mary needs salvation. Mary receives it from God Himself. Mary is a child of Adam. She is fully human. Mary needs her Son’s redemption. She received it and it gained her for the preventive grace which saved her from the stain of all sin, actual and original. She would be the Mother of God. God prepared her for that. Mary is completely unique in that regard.
God has given Mary a special role in heaven. The Blessed Virgin Mary is our spiritual mother. She is also someone God sends to give us graces to employ. Those graces include praying the Rosary, and other devotions. She is also an ambassador. She appears to us at various times to warn us, encourage us, and to tell us to confess our sins, to do better, and to go to Holy Mass on Sunday, and receive her Son Jesus in Holy Communion, and to repent of our sinfulness. Mary performs active roles for us and she does them well and with the approval of God the Father and Jesus, God’s Son and Mary’s. Reach out to her in prayer. Imitate her. You will find that when you do, you will become more like Jesus. It is Jesus who saves us, not Mary. But Mary is an example of what will happen to those who serve and fear God and His Only Begotten Son. That is resurrection and life with God in Heaven.
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