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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2018

     August 15 used to be a very important date on the Church’s calendar and the Assumption was a very important feast.  It still is, but not so many people take note of it any longer.  Back in the day when Church feasts were also civic holidays, everybody knew about this feast and it was easy to celebrate it.  Things have changed, haven’t they!  But you’re here, you made the effort.  Good for you!

     But what exactly is it that we’re celebrating?  Or maybe I should say, who exactly is it that we’re celebrating?  Mary, of course, but I would qualify that a bit and say that we do not so much celebrate Mary as we celebrate what God has done for her and in her, the God who is mighty and who does great things, as we heard in the gospel. .  Every feast is first of all about God and the wonders of God’s grace.  Today, we are celebrating the glory that God gave to the one we honor as the Mother of God, the one who bore Jesus our savior in her womb, gave birth to him, loved him, raised him, taught him and, in the end, followed him - for Mary was not only the mother of Jesus, she was also his disciple.  And good disciple that she was, Mary followed Jesus in his ministry, and she followed him into glory.

     We celebrate all that today.  And we celebrate, too, the singular role Mary played in the great drama of our salvation - the fact that the God-man took flesh in her womb, yes, and the fact that because she bore him in her womb, her own flesh got touched by divinity: touched and transformed by divinity.  Another way of saying this is that, when she was here on earth, Mary brought heaven to earth.  She did that because she gave birth to divinity, she gave humanity to divinity!  Is it any wonder, then, that when Mary breathed her last and died, earth was already touching heaven, and her body – not just her soul - was completely filled with glory?   Mary was utterly unique in this respect.  She was “high beyond all other creatures,” in the words of the great Dante.

     And what does all this mean for us? Well, because of Mary’s Assumption, “we, the Church, have one foot in heaven already,” as someone aptly put it. We have one foot in heaven already not only because Christ is risen but also because Mary has been assumed!  And that, my friends, is why we have hope; that’s why we live in hope.  Our bodies in which the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple – our bodies and not just our souls - are destined for glory.  One day, this poor, fragile, sometimes weak, often struggling, yet always beautiful human flesh of ours will be transfused with glory.  First Jesus, then his mother, then all of us who believe and place our hope in Christ.

    Dear friends, this wonderful feast is the perfect day for us to rejoice and give thanks not only for Mary but also for the bodies God has given us.  They will, of course, return one day to the dust from which they came, but on the last day they will be raised to glory where, along with Mary and the entire company of saints, they will share in the glory of the Risen Christ, and God will be all in all!

Father Michael G. Ryan

 

 

 

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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303