Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The scripture readings for the celebration of this great feast draw our attention to the presence of God in the world; the presence of God among God’s people. The Blessed Mother is honored as the new ark of the covenant who carries the God within her and we are invited to ask ourselves how we too can bring Christ into the world.
In the celebration of the vigil, the first reading from I Chronicles gives the account of David honoring the ark of God by creating and giving it a special place among the people. The presence of the ark of the covenant caused great rejoicing and the people offered sacrifices to the Lord.
The Lucan gospel reading for the Vigil and the Mass for the day describes the Blessed Mother as the new ark of the covenant. In the gospel passage for the Vigil, a woman in the crowd cries out to Jesus: Blessed is the womb that carried you! And in the story of the Visitation in the next day’s gospel. it is Elizabeth who proclaims to Mary: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. At the sound of your greetings the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
The holiness of Mary radiated from the presence of God within her and her presence became a blessing for those who know her.
And what about us? Is it possible for us to also be an ark of God? Is it possible that our lives and our presence can be a blessing to all those we visit? I find these questions intriguing and challenging. Is it even possible for my life to be that holy?
Jesus says that it is possible. In his response to the woman who cries out in the crowd, he proclaims: Blessed are those that hear the word of God and observe it. This is not a denial by Jesus of the holiness of his mother; rather, Jesus is describing her path to holiness. The Blessed Mother allowed the Word of God to be implanted within her; allowed the Word to grow within her; and then she gave birth and brought the Word into the world.
Like Mary, we are asked to receive the word of God. We are asked to give it a special place within our souls. We are asked to nurture and allow that word to grow and become strong within us. And then we are asked to give birth to the presence of God in the world by how we live our lives.
Just as the Word became flesh in the womb of Mary, the word of God becomes flesh in our lives when we observe the teachings of Jesus. Then we can proclaim with Mary: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed.
Fr. William Nordenbrock, C.PP.S., is the moderator general of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood worldwide. An Ohio native, he now lives in Rome. The Congregation serves in over 20 countries around the globe.