Assumption: God's response to Mary's faithful service Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Aug. 06, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

On August 15, we celebrate Mary's Assumption into heaven.

In no. 966 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, "The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."

Mary's love of God

The Renaissance painter Titian painted an inspiring picture of Mary's Assumption into heaven. Mary is dressed no longer in blue, but in the flaming red of victory. Escorted by angels, she rises majestically in the heavens into the glory of God. The apostles stand below gazing upward with wonder and joy.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, a Marian expert, said that Mary was so in love with God that she spiritually conceived Jesus in her heart before she conceived him in her womb. In Luke 1:26-36, through the archangel Gabriel, God asked Mary if she would consent to be Jesus' mother. Mary replied, "Let it be done to me as you say!" At that moment Mary conceived Jesus!

We celebrate the feast of the Annunciation on March 25, nine months before we celebrate Jesus' birth at Christmas.

Countering loss of respect for life

In 1950 Pope Pius XII promulgated the dogma of the Assumption to counter the loss of respect for the God-given dignity of every human being.

The first half of the 20th century was arguably the bloodiest century in the world's history. Massive disrespect for human life resulted in millions of deaths, suffering, and injustices.

In her Magnificat, Mary prophesies that Jesus' mission is to restore justice and respect for human persons.

In Luke 1:39-56, the Gospel used on the feast of the Assumption, after Mary learns that Elizabeth her cousin has conceived John the Baptist, she sets out in haste to visit, support, and help Elizabeth in her hour of need. The Church calls this the Visitation.

When Mary greets Elizabeth, John the Baptist in Elizabeth's womb recognizes Jesus and leaps with joy. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth cries out, "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb."

Mary’s Magnificat

Mary responds to Elizabeth's greeting by proclaiming the Magnificat. She rejoiced that all generations shall call her blessed because she is full of grace and has been chosen to be Jesus' mother.

Mary continues the Magnificat by saying that her Son will turn the world’s values upside down by ushering in the kingdom and living the Sermon on the Mount. Through his Son, the Father will confuse the proud in the conceit of their heart. He will depose the mighty from their thrones and raise the lowly to high places. The hungry he will fill with good things while the rich he will send away empty.

The Magnificat recognizes the God-given rights of the poor and powerless. Lack of respect for the rights and dignity of others leads to sins of injustice, immorality, and war.

Mary, our spiritual mother, continues to intercede for us on earth so that we might follow her into heaven.

Doing what Jesus tells us

At Cana, Mary instructed the waiters to do what Jesus tells them. Our mission is also to do what Jesus tells us.

In today's world there is a cacophony of voices inviting us to follow their ways, rather than Jesus' ways. The feast of the Assumption invites us to imitate Mary, who followed Christ as his first and greatest disciple.

Let's ask the Holy Spirit to help us do God's will on earth so that we can follow Mary into heaven and enjoy God's presence in company with the angels and saints forever. Amen!

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.