The Assumption of Mary Into Heaven:
United to Her Son, Praying for Us
I want to begin today by speaking about relics. What are relics? Usually, they are items that were part of the Lord’s life and death, such as relics of the true cross, or relics of saints, most often portions of the saints’ bodies. It is a belief in the Church that God also honors the saints by performing miracles in the presence of their relics. Thousands of people still go on pilgrimages to places where the relics of saints are kept, all seeking the saint’s intercession with God for the pilgrim’s particular needs.
Relics were highly valued throughout the Church from its earliest days, but particularly in the Middle Ages. Kings and nobles would send emissaries all over the world to find them. They would pay huge sums of money to obtain them. St. Louis of France built La Chapelle to house the relic of Our Lord’s Crown of Thorns. The Cathedral in Cologne boasts of having the relics of the magi. Compostela in Spain is still a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to visit the relics of St. James. If you go to Padua in Italy you will see the famous relics of St. Anthony, including the tongue to the famous preacher.
But nowhere will you find a relic of the body of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There aren’t any. When Mary’s time on earth came to an end, she was totally united, body and soul, to her Son in heaven. This is what we are celebrating today, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.
It was never God’s plan that the creatures He made in His image and likeness would suffer and die. People, mankind, Adam and Eve, had the ability to choose God and choose His Life. Instead, they pushed God aside. His Life was rejected. The rejection of life resulted in death. Mankind has suffered the result of this rejection. Adam and Eve and everyone after them died or will die. Like Adam and Eve, Mary was created totally united to God. We call this her Immaculate Conception. Like Adam and Eve, Mary had the ability to choose God or reject Him. But unlike Adam and Eve, Mary chose God, chose Life. Mary brought her Immaculate Conception to its fulfillment when she said to the Angel Gabriel, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” We often call this Mary’s fiat from the Latin word, “May it be done.” Her desire to trust in God despite what the world might throw at her was her living out her Immaculate Conception. Adam and Eve were too proud to do this. They jumped at what they were told would be an opportunity to be like God themselves. Mary said, “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
The world, and the prince of the world, the devil, threw its worst at her. She was the object of gossip. She was a young teenager, still living with her parents, and she was pregnant. She could have been stoned to death. Joseph could have turned her over to the law. But he was a righteous man. He knew what would be right with God. Having the young girl killed would not be God’s way. Joseph trusted the angel of his dreams and took Mary as his wife. Mary’s child was born in a stable, a smelly, stinky dirty stable. When Jesus began his public life, Mary witnessed her son being mocked by the religious authorities whose teaching he had come to bring to its completion. And then there was the cross. And there she was, under the cross. The Passion in the Gospel of John makes it a point to say that Mary was standing beneath the cross. She was not crumbled into a hysterical heap of tears. She was standing under the cross. Her heart was breaking, but her faith in the Father remained strong. And it was there, under the cross, that
she became our mother.
Now, fully united to her Son, body and soul, she intercedes with him for the children He gave her, for us. This is a gift we can only understand through the eyes of faith. Our Mother is always there with Our Lord, praying for us, calling upon Him to hear her prayers and our prayers.
Many non-Catholics cannot understand this. They attempt to tell us what we believe, as though we need to hear from them what our faith is. We know that we don’t worship Mary. But we also know that she is our Mother always present with her Son. That is why prayers to Mary are so powerful. That is why the rosary is so effective. Mary is the closest to Jesus in heaven. She is the only one fully united to Him, body and soul. And she will pray to Him for us......if we ask her to.
I mentioned in a homily two weeks ago that I enjoy spending some time at the Trappist Monastery in Conyers, GA. The abbey church is rather sparse in its liturgical decorations. It only has one stained glass window. But that window says it all. The window depicts the Blessed Virgin reaching out to us her children. Within the window, where Mary’s womb would be, there is a second piece of stained glass, a depiction of Jesus. It is not the infant Jesus or the child Jesus, but the fully grown Jesus. Mary was intimately united to Jesus when she carried Him. She remains intimately united to Him. When we bring her to others, we bring Jesus. When we call upon her to pray to her son, she unites her prayers to the One who is united to her. This is what we are celebrating today. This is the celebration of her Assumption.