Assumption Revelation 11:29, 12:1–6, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20–26; Luke 1:39–56
South American mothers Mary’s victory over the sufferings of this life is a promise of our own victory.
Some time ago Maryknoll magazine carried an article by a South American missionary.* He said he learned a lot about Mary from South American mothers.
To illustrate his point, he cited three examples. First, he cited those mothers who were forced to flee their native country because of political persecution. They taught him how Mary felt when she was forced to flee to Egypt, with Jesus and Joseph, to escape the political persecution of Herod.
Second, he cited those mothers whose sons were arrested as political prisoners and were never again heard from. They taught him how Mary felt when Jesus disappeared for three days when he was 12. They taught him about the terror that filled Mary’s heart as she and Joseph searched for Jesus.
Not all the South American mothers, however, were as fortunate as Mary. Many of them never found their sons. Some continue to search. Others have given up the search and now carry signs in public squares to protest a government that abducts people just because they hold different political views.
Third, the missionary cites those mothers who held in their arms the dead bodies of sons who were killed by government hit squads. They taught him how Mary felt * Victor Schymeinsky, “Mother’s Day,’’ Maryknoll (May 1986). when she held in her arms the dead body of her own son.
How do the missionary’s three examples fit in with today’s feast?
Isn’t today’s feast a joyous one, not a sorrowful one?
Isn’t it a feast that celebrates the fact that because Mary didn’t sin, her body went directly to heaven and did not undergo decay?
It certainly is. But today’s feast also celebrates the fact that Mary’s presence in heaven is a reward for her own suffering on earth. We sometimes forget how much Mary suffered in her lifetime.
And that’s where today’s feast fits in with the examples of the South American mothers.
It assures those mothers that if they accept their suffering as Mary did, they too will receive the reward of heaven.
Comparing the suffering of this life to the reward of heaven, Paul says:
“I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
“What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him. But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9–10
And so, if we are a young person who suffers ridicule from fellow students because we follow Jesus, we should rejoice.
For today’s feast promises us a reward beyond our dreams.
And if we are an adult who suffers opposition from fellow workers because we live by the principles of Jesus, we should rejoice. For today’s feast promises us a reward that will exceed by far our present suffering.
And if we are an elderly person who suffers disappointment because our earthly dreams never materialized, we should rejoice. For today’s feast promises us a heavenly reward beyond any earthly dreams.
This is the good news of today’s feast. This is the good news of today’s readings. Mary’s reward for her suffering is a promise that we, too, will be rewarded for our suffering.
Let’s close by praying these words from the Preface of today’s Mass:
God our Father, “today the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven to be . . . a sign of hope . . . for all people.
“You would not allow decay to touch her body, for she had given birth to your Son, the Lord of all life.’’
May we join Mary in heaven someday and, with her, praise you for ever and ever.
Series II Assumption Revelation 11:19, 12:1–6, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20–26; Luke 1:39–56
Standing with Mary To those in need,Mary is a source of power and a tower of strength.
The writings of Marjorie Holmes have inspired millions of people.
Few of these people are aware, however, that there was a time in Marjorie’s life when she herself felt that she couldn’t go on and needed all the inspiration she could get.
That was the time when her teenage son, Jimmy, ran away from home.
When Jimmy didn’t show up for breakfast one morning, Marjorie went to his room and found him missing. Jimmy had left during the night without taking anything with him: no money, no clothes just the clothes he was wearing.
Marjorie was thrown into a state of panic. All her motherly fears came flooding down on her.
Her creative imagination went wild. She could see Jimmy in all kinds of terrible situations, with all kinds of terrible people. The days grew into weeks, and her fears grew with them.
Two days before Easter, she went shopping with her two younger children.
As she went from store to store, she realized that she was merely going through the motions of preparing for Easter.
Her heart and her mind were on Jimmy. Where was he? What was he doing? Was he still alive?
Suddenly she heard church bells ringing. It was Good Friday. She found the church where the sound of the bells was coming from, went inside, and knelt down to pray.
As she did, her thoughts turned to Mary and to the suffering she endured as her son hung on the cross on Good Friday. Suddenly she felt very close to Mary. She says:
“My heart broke for her, that courageous little peasant woman whose agony was so much greater than mine.
“But as I wept for her, it was as if my own soul was healed. . . . As if God had spoken to me clearly, quietly, saying, ‘Trust Me. . . . I will give you strength. . . . Trust Me.’ ’’
At that moment, a deep peace and stillness entered her whole being.
Months later, Jimmy returned home safe and sound.
As Marjorie looked back across those frightening months, she realized that the turning point in her ability to cope came on that Good Friday, while kneeling in that church.
Or rather, it came when her thoughts turned to Mary and to the suffering she endured as her son hung on the cross on Good Friday.
It came from the inspiration and strength that she drew from Mary at that moment.
Marjorie Holmes is one of the countless human beings who in the course of history has drawn support and strength from Mary in time of need.
Marjorie is one of the countless human beings who has discovered the great lady whose feast we celebrate today.
She is one of the countless human beings who has discovered that when we are overwhelmed with sorrow and worry and don’t know where to turn, we can always turn to Mary.
For Mary is not only the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of each one of us.
And like every mother, she wants to help her children. She wants to help us. All we need do is turn to her. This is the message of today’s feast. This is the good news that we celebrate in today’s liturgy.
We have a mother, and her name is Mary. She wants to help us. All we need do is turn to her.
Series III Assumption Revelation 11:19, 12:1–6, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20–27; Luke 1:39–56
Reunion in heaven “My heart praises the Lord.”
Mary said, “My heart praises the Lord;my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!” Luke 1:46–48
The teachers of the first and second grades of a school wanted to teach the children the meaning of the assumption of Mary.
Moreover, they wanted to do this in a way that small children would understand, enjoy, and remember.
They decided to do an update of a celebration of the Assumption that was common centuries ago in small towns in Italy.
The teachers divided their two classes into two groups: boys in one and girls in the other.
After explaining to the children what was going to happen, and what it symbolized, the girls gathered at the north end of the church’s parking lot.
Each wore a blue bow. The leader carried a small statue of Mary. The boys gathered at the south end. Each wore a red paper cross, pinned on his shirt, and the leader carried a statue of Jesus. At the appointed time, the two groups of children began singing and marching slowly toward each other.
The girls, and their blue bows, stood for Mary; the boys, and their red crosses, stood for Jesus.
The big moment came when the two groups met under an arch of branches and flowers at the door of the church.
At this point, the two groups stopped singing. They paused for a moment and then bowed reverently and slowly three times toward each other.
This bowing ceremony symbolized Jesus’ meeting and greeting of his mother as she arrived at the gate of heaven at end of her life on earth.
After the bowing ceremony, the children began singing again. Then they marched side-by-side into the church behind the two statues.
The symbolism was that Jesus was leading his mother into heaven to her throne of honor.
When the procession reached the altar, the priest, who stood for God the Father, took the two statues and installed them in a place of honor.
This beautiful ceremony expressed, in a way the children could understand, the meaning of the Assumption. That meaning contains three points.
First,Mary was taken body and soul into heaven.
Second,Mary’s assumption reminds us that we too will someday join Mary in heaven.
Third,Mary is not only the mother of Jesus but also our spiritual mother.
She prays for us day and night that we will persevere in our own struggle to win the reward of eternal life, as she did.
This is the good news contained in today’s Mass readings.
This is the good news that we celebrate in this liturgy. This is the good news expressed in a way that every child can understand.