TEXT: Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2023
Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 2023
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Why do we come here today?
I mean, why has Holy Mother Church made the feast of the Assumption
a day of Obligation to attend Mass?
What about the Blessed Mother’s birthday, less than month from now,
that’s not a Holy Day?
And what about the Annunciation? Even that’s not a Holy Day.
But the Assumption is very special for many reasons
that demand that we give praise and glory to God
and His beloved daughter and Mother in an extraordinary way.
First, on a certain fundamental level,
it reminds us of Mary’s central and unique role in our salvation.
The third chapter of Genesis tells us that, almost right from the beginning,
God promised not only that He would send a Savior
but also that He would send the mother of the Savior,
who, like her son, God would protect from the devil,
untouched by original sin or her own personal sin:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.”
So, like her Son, she didn’t have to die
since death was the ultimate effect of original sin.
But more than that, in God’s plan, she became the Savior’s mother
because she believed as St. Elizabeth proclaimed,
“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment
of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
These words Jesus recalls elsewhere in the gospel,
again speaking of His Mother:
“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
By her faith she accepted God’s plan and the Savior for all mankind
and went on to raise the Savior as only a perfectly holy mother could.
So the word of God recorded by the psalmist
applied not only to her Son, but to her as well:
“My soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.”
So when her earthly life had come to an end,
God–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–lifted her up bodily into heaven
into the fullness of glorious joy forever.
This reminds us of the unique and essential role Mary played
2,000 years ago in bringing about our salvation.
But it also reminds us of her continuing role in our salvation
because, like all of us, Mary was not created simply to live on earth.
Even as wonderful as her life on earth was,
like all of us, Mary was created for the perfect life of heaven
where she could live and love without any earthly limits,
sharing in the fullness of the Trinitarian life and love of heaven.
And in Mary this takes on an added dimension:
The Assumption celebrates the fulfillment of Mary’s role in salvation
as our Mother.
In a sense, Mary was our mother from the moment of the Incarnation,
but in a more dramatic and direct way, we see this on the Cross,
when her Son united His bride, the Church, to His own body,
so that the Mother of Jesus’ body, both in faith and in flesh,
became the mother of the Body of Christ, the Church.
And so Jesus said, “Behold your Mother.”
In her earthly life this motherhood was limited to the constraints of earth.
But now, from her throne in heaven, in the presence of the angels who she commands
and seated at the foot of the throne of her Beloved Son,
she is brought to the fullness of that role.
St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews tells us,
“[Christ] is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
Jesus continues his salvific work even 2,000 years after the cross,
standing before His Father, making eternal supplication for us.
But Mary is there as well, always making supplication to her Son,
a son who loves His Mother more profoundly than any son ever loved a mother.
And so, in a very real sense, it is in the mystery of the Assumption
that we find Mary’s Motherly mediation of grace to us today,
brought to completion for us, her sons and daughters in Christ,
and the whole world today, 2,000 years later,
so that “all generations call her blessed.”
And so, in this we see a promise to us from a God who keeps His promises.
God, who promised the world both a Savior and His Mother,
and kept that promise,
also promised to all who believe, love, and follow His Son
that they will enter eternal life, sharing in heaven both in soul and in body.
And He kept that promise in Mary:
She was the first and perfect believer and follower of our Savior,
so she was the first to share in heaven, in body and soul.
So the Assumption is both a promise to mankind
and a sign that the promise is already being fulfilled, in Mary.
And so today we celebrate Mary’s unique role in Salvation
as Mother of the Savior and of His Church,
as a pledge to us of her constant motherly assistance,
and as a promise of the glory of heaven to all who
believe, love, and follow her Son.
So it is right and necessary to celebrate in a special way, as we do today.
And how else better to celebrate than at Holy Mass
which is a foretaste of heaven?
Here we, united through the whole Church throughout the world today,
come together as the one bride at the wedding feast of the Lamb,
joined to the Lamb who was slain on the altar of the Cross.
And we remember the only other wedding feast recorded in the life of Christ:
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.”
And so we’re not surprised to read in the book of Revelation,
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened…
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun…”
Mary is always at the wedding feast of her son,
always in heaven, and always at the altar of the Mass;
always there to perfectly attend and worship her son
and to assist us, her children,
to participate more profoundly in the wedding feast.
To teach us how to offer more fitting adoration and worship
of her son and His Father and Spirit,
since from year 1, she has offered God the most fitting worship.
From proclaiming “My soul magnifies the Lord,”
to offering the Father His Son, her Son, at the foot of the cross,
to today, right now, as she kneels humbly in adoration and supplication
before the throne of the Lamb.
Just as “all generations have called her blessed”
for the last 2,000 years, she has taught all generations
how to worship the Most High God.
Today we celebrate the Assumption of Mary.
We celebrate the promises made and kept
and the unique role of the Blessed Mother in our salvation.
Let us, now, let her teach us and lead us to the throne of her son,
the eternal altar of the Lamb,
so that our souls may magnify the Lord,
and our spirits and bodies rejoice in God our Savior.