Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15, 2013 Father De Celles Homily

August 15, 2013
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church,
Springfield, Va.

Sometimes it seems that everywhere we turn
there’s bad and even frightening news:
the War on Terror,
unemployment, bankruptcy, foreclosures,
furloughs, political discord,
the loss of privacy, the power of government,
the attack on marriage, the decline of morals….
Not to mention more personal tragedies:
illness, loneliness, abandonment, death…
I could go on and on.
Facing all this it’s easy to become sad and discouraged.
So easy to slip into fear, or even to lose hope.

But then we come to a day like today:
a day filled with joy as we celebrate
the Assumption of the BVM to heaven.

We celebrate with joy because of the event itself:
that the Blessed Mother, the Mother of Jesus and Our Mother,
when her earthly life was ended,
was assumed, body and soul, into heaven,
and now reigns in glory with her Son, Jesus Christ,
as queen of heaven and earth.

We imagine her joy of being in the glory of heaven
before the throne of God the Father and Son,
united to them in the fullness of the Holy Spirit,
and in the company of the angels and saints.
Perfect happiness, perfect love, perfect peace, perfect joy.
Tonight we read the words she spoke on that day
she visited her cousin Elizabeth,
with the Baby Jesus newly conceived in her womb,
“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.”
Surely that day she meant every word and they were pure and true,
but now in heaven those words take on
a whole new meaning and perfection.
“Her spirit rejoices in God her savior,
for he has lifted up his lowly servant
and placed her in the center of his heart,
in the love of the Father Son and Holy Spirit,
surrounded by the angels and saints,
and in the midst of all the prayers and praise
of the faithful on earth.

She is filled with incomprehensible joy,
and, because she is our Mother, how can we not rejoice in her happiness.

And in her happiness we find even more joy for ourselves
—for as our Mother she longs for us to share her joy completely.
She longs for us to go where she has gone,
to live in paradise as saints forever.
For us to share eternally in the promise Her Son made to all of us,
that if we would love Him and believe in him
and hope in him and follow him,
we might have eternal life—life in abundance.
“Rejoice and be glad” he said,
“for the kingdom of God shall be yours,” he promised.
“Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him
[shall] have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The promise that his faithful followers would go heaven,
not just in spirit or with their souls, but in their whole being: body and soul.
So that all the fears and pains and suffering we endure in body and soul
in our life in this world would be wiped away and rewarded,
and every joy we celebrate on earth in body and soul
will be fulfilled and perfected.

And he has kept his promise.
First with His Mother as he took her, body and soul into heaven.
The first disciple of Jesus, the one who, as Elizabeth says of her, was the first to
“believe that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
So she was the first to receive the fullness of His promise,
and her assumption into to heaven stands as a pledge to us
that where the first disciple, the first believer, has gone,
the rest of His disciples will follow.

If, if, only we are true disciples as she was.
If we believe and hope and accept His grace to live and love as she did,
in conformity with his will, his commandments his word.
Only if we “believe that what was spoken to [us] by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
as she did.
Only if we obey his word as she did, saying with word and deed:
“Let it be done to me according to thy word.”

This is our joy:
that our mother is in heaven rejoicing in the perfect love of God.
And this is our joy: that there she is preparing a place for us,
a place won for us by her divine son
who fills us with his grace and love here on earth
that we may bear all suffering, resist all temptation,
and carry all crosses.
And this is our joy: that as we travel in this earthly valley of suffering and fear,
our Mother in heaven is always there to brings her Divine Son to us,
just as she brought him (in her womb) to Elizabeth so long ago.
And that she comes to comfort and assist us at every moment,
even the darkest moments,
just as she came to help ‘Elizabeth so long ago.
And this is our joy: that her Divine Son who loved his mother so much
that he filled her with his grace and love on earth,
and then finally brought her, body and soul,
home to the joys of heaven,
(that he) loves us also, and longs to do the same for each of us.

Every day all around us we see and hear news that can
fill us with sadness, and discouragement,
even overwhelm us fear and hopelessness.
But then we come to a day like today:
a day filled with joy as we join the angels and saints
in celebrating the Assumption of our Blessed Mother, Mary,
into heaven.
And in the arms of our Mother, and by the Grace of her Son, Jesus Christ,
all fear and sadness slips away.
And we join her in saying to Him:
“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.”