The Feast (or Solemnity) of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady

As an uncle to 17 nieces and nephews I have occasionally been able to babysit and read bedtime stories. It is amazing how the same formulas ‘Once upon a time’ and ‘they all lived happily ever after’ is a perennial favourite with children.
I suppose we as adults lose sight of our once childish imagination of mythical lands and kingdoms far away, and need to ‘put away the things of childhood’ as St Paul put it, yet we are still called to be childlike, although not childish, if we are to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

We continue as adults to love drama and stories, and I suppose their enduring appeal is that they allow us to escape from the humdrum of life. If you like reading as I do then there is no end to the stories we engage in literature of fiction. Movies and TV soaps likewise are a huge source of commercial profit and provide an endless source of income for writers. A recent writers’ strike in the US showed how dependent TV channels and the viewing public depend on the creative output of writers.

Yet the greatest drama of all is our own life and our place in the world and in God’s loving plan of salvation.
The life of Mary which we honour and commemorate today, as well as the lives of the saints, allow us to see in what ways we too can respond to God’s plan in our lives. While Mary was given insights to her future by the angel Gabriel and by Simeon yet she is the one who is blessed by all generations for her faith. Faith means believing in what as yet remains unseen to us. Mary is the ‘Mother of all believers’ according to the Catechism, and so she is a model of trust and hope in what lies ahead in our lives - to trust that God knows what He is doing!

We commemorate in a particular way in the Feast of the Assumption, Mary’s ‘happily ever after’. She is in heaven. She ‘made it’ across the finishing line of what St Paul calls ‘the race’ which is our Christian life.

We mistakenly think that Mary had it easy and could see her way ahead clearly. She had daily tasks and chores in her married and family life, in the household and in her immediate neighbourhood community. The haste with which Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth, the three months stay which clearly implies she was present for John the Baptist’s birth, and her foresight and attentiveness at Cana, all reveal to us a woman of compassion who responded to real life situations and crises as they arose unexpectedly, in a charitable and selfless manner.

Mary’s selflessness challenges us to confront the three Cs in our lives that constantly draw us back into our own little ivory towers. These are the
C of control where I do my own will instead of consulting God in the matter and seek Him above all else.

And the Cs of comfort and convenience that I must overcome in true love of neighbour.
Mary’s overcoming of the C of control is evident at the Annunciation – ‘behold the handmaid of the Lord; and ‘do whatever He tells you’, and ‘pondering these things in her heart’ at the birth of Jesus and at the Presentation..
And her overcoming the Cs of convenience and comfort is implied as mentioned in her joyful haste to meet and look after Elizabeth, as well as the many sacrifices she made as wife and mother in the household. Her comfort and convenience were also shattered by the many sorrows of exile and prophecy, of bereavements and loneliness and much interior suffering during Jesus’ Passion and death.

Mary’s ‘happily ever after’ was costly, yet worth it. Our salvation likewise is not easy but we see it as attainable with God’s grace, and Mary’s intercession in this ‘valley of tears’. We are in the thick of our own story, with our own unique attributes, personalities and tasks, but God the author is in control and who requires our free co-operation. Like Mary, we can say: ‘the Lord has done great things for me, holy is His name’. Where Mary has gone, we hope to follow. Then too with Mary we can live ‘happily ever after’.

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