On this Solemnity, Father Robert Barcelos explains the victory over death that already belongs to those who follow Christ in Mary, and exhorts us to embrace that victory even when sometimes, it appears that we are without hope.
SOURCE: Homily, 8/15/17, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Gospel: Lk 1:39-56 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me,that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“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: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
According to Saint John Paul II, we honor and venerate Mary more than any other human being, more than any faithful disciple of God, more than any saint, but she is still nowhere near her Son. Many of the saints describe that difference as the difference between the glory of the sun, the bright star of day, in comparison to the radiance of the moon. There’s no comparison. The moon receives all of its radiance from our sun. The moon is important at night and brightens the night. Though the moon is nothing compared to the sun, at night, in comparison to the stars of the galaxy, is far superior than any star. So too, Mary is far superior to any saint, but nowhere near her son, the source of her holiness.
Archbishop Sheen says that Mary, the Woman “is not a goddess, she is not divine, she is entitled to no adoration… without Christ she would be nothing.” It almost sounds irreverent and disrespectful, but it’s truthful and is Catholic doctrine. In the Magnificat, when Elizabeth honors her and says, ‘I am not worthy to be in your presence because you contain my savior, the mother of my Lord.’ And in the presence of His tabernacle, she genuflects before Mary who contains the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Blessed are you among all women. Blessed are you for your faith. Blessed are you who believed that what the Word promised to you would be fulfilled, which has allowed God’smiracles to happen in the world by the author of all miracles being born through you. After all that, Mary herself says, ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. ’ It’s not about me. ‘My Spirit rejoices in God my savior because He has looked upon my nothingness.’ I am nothing. He is everything. That is Mary’s Magnificat and represents her attitude. She is so pure and so full of grace. Because she is so selfless, God lives in her. Mary is such a perfect instrument of the Holy Spirit. She is so radiantly immaculate that she is the perfect pure vessel for God to work through her.
When we read Saint John of the Cross, we read about how awesome God is and what He is capable of accomplishing in a human soul; He transforms us to such an extent that we can share in His divine nature, as Saint Peter and Saint Paul say. Saint John of the Cross expresses what this exalted stage of transforming union with God looks like and says that this person who has been transformed in God is so filled with the presence of God that they are like a conduit for God to work through them, to think through them, to speak through them, to act through them, to accomplish God’s work in them. They are so magnificently filled with God that you would think that you are looking at God, but you’re not. It is a human being transformed by the grace of God. If we can say that about an ordinary human being, how much more can we say that about the greatest of all human beings, the mother of the divine redeemer. She’s not divine, but she’s so transfigured by grace, that she is the most perfect instrument of the divine. Not of worship, because that’s for God alone and we should have no false gods before us; we only worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The most perfect worshiper of God ever, was Mary. Nobody ever worshiped God with such a perfect love, a purity of heart, with zealous devotion and generosity of spirit than Mary. She had the most intimate relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit than we can ever imagine or ever duplicate. There’s no greater model. There’s no greater mother. To disrespect her is to disrespect one of God’s greatest gifts, after the Holy Spirit. For us as Carmelites, she is the model of our desire for union with God. It’s her like union with God that’s the inspiration for ours. Our whole identity as Carmelites is to honor that by living it, by allowing Mary to reproduce in us the quality of divine intimacy that she possessed with the Holy Trinity. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.