17 August, 2015

Homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 1:39-56
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…
because he has looked upon his lowly servant.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:47-48).
Francesco Botticini - The Assumption of the Virgin
The Assumption of the BVM is one of the ancient feasts Church celebrates in honour of the Mother of God, recalling her entrance into heaven both body and soul. For Centuries theologians have tried to define the mystery of this event; sometimes their efforts and zeal has even become cause of division in the Church, and to this day the Western and the Orthodox Churches hold different views about the actual practicalities of how Our Lady was assumed into heaven. Nevertheless, the mystery we celebrate today should be an occasion of rejoicing for every Christian at the mighty work that God has accomplished in Mary.
This lowly servant of the Magnificat, this Immaculate virgin prepared to be the mother of God, this faithful model of discipleship who followed Jesus even to Calvary, this attentive mother who invites us to carry out whatever Jesus commands us to do; this our sister in humanity and our Mother in the faith has been exalted above all creation and taken up into heaven both body and soul, and in her we see our own humanity fully transformed by the resurrection of Christ.
So today we must honour Our Lady in her glorious feast because today God has indeed manifested his favour for his lowly servant, and – in his immense love for humanity – He has given us in the Assumption of Mary a token, a glimpse if you like, of the blessed life that attends the whole Church in heaven. Today, in Mary, we look upon the effect of the saving power of Christ and we are called take heart about the future; if Mary is our Mother we will come to share in her exalted condition through the overwhelming power of God’s grace.

I strongly believe that the words we use in our prayers and the beauty of our corporate liturgies can express the Christian faith with great power. So I invite you to listen carefully to the words of the Eucharistic prayer later; these express the faith in the Assumption in the most concise and fitting way I can think of by saying,
Today the Virgin Mother of God
was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and image
of [the] Church’s coming to perfection
and a sign of sure hope
and comfort to [God’s] pilgrim people.

Finally, I know that in the Church of England many people, especially outside this church, feel uncomfortable with this solemnity and they barricade themselves behind the “it’s not in the Bible” lame excuse, but how about this for a piece of Anglican devotion to Our Lady? These are the words of Bishop Thomas Ken, who lived through the English Civil War and the false religion of the puritans, he says,
The Son, adored and nursed by the sweet Maid,
a thousandfold of love for love repaid.
Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced,
next to his throne her Son his Mother placed;
and here below, now she's of heaven possessed,
all generations are to call her blessed.
May the constant prayer and protection of Our Blessed Mother help us to be faithful to our call as Christians, and to reach safely that vision of glory she already enjoys. Amen.