The feast of the Assumption remembers how Mary, at the moment of her death, immediately was taken up to Heaven. The feast celebrates the fulfilment of her complete co-operation with God’s plan for our salvation. All this started with her first Fiat, (let it be according to your will, and continued via her many ‘yes-es’ in support of her son’s redemptive work.)
However, we also celebrate in her our own hoped arrival to the House of Love. She was ‘the first citizen’ of Heaven, who entered it from among us. ‘Let us pray that we will join Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the glory of heaven.’ (Opening Prayer)
These are those aspects of the feast, which our believing intellect can grasp and understand through faith. The human person (‘the speaking being’) starts its journey into language when listening and looking up our mother’s words and face. Similarly, today’s feast is about contemplating Our Mother in order to ‘imitate’ her, and learn the language of our coming life. One of the first 'words' we learn is Mary’s yes to God’s will. ‘Let it be according to Thy word!’ Like the repeating heartbeats of our faith.
But there is a second ‘region’ of meaning of the Assumption. In the coming week, let us meditate on it, all of us, individually… Let us ask ourselves, why is the celebration of the Mother of God is so important, nay, timely today? What is the message of Mary’s divine motherhood? Why is she such an important ‘blueprint’ of our human love? For that human love, which, as she has shown, can intermingle with divine Love itself? In answering this question, I mention two reasons here.
Julia Kristeva observes, as a criticism, that Christianity’s is the last discourse on motherhood, and Life itself, we could add. Our secular culture, which is so clever in many ways, gives zero instruction and support to what it means to be a mother. Our Christian faith, unfalteringly, keeps us evaluating and appreciating the unique role of mothers, and fathers.
Two third of today’s children grow up without the experience of a father’s love. Perhaps the same can be said, in a symbolic way, that two third of people grow up without ‘the Father’s love’, the most precious experience of being brought up in the family of the Church.
That is why it is so important to hold in our hands the ‘hologram’ of the completeness of Love. This unbroken and wholeness of Love is there; is always offered to us to be healed by, to be nourished by, to be guided by, to be brought up by.
If broken families, broken individuals, broken societies -broken neighbourhoods -could contemplate this Emmanuel, this Love-with-us, through our Lady as the mother of all, it would make the missing difference in our lives. It would not sort out our problems, yet, it would be a beginning, a beginning anew with God. Just as the Mary and Joseph had to undertake a challenging, many times a seemingly impossible journey, full of dangers. The Assumption assures us that our paths can be ‘taken up’, and we can continue our journey closer to God, closer to the life and happiness God has envisioned for us, from our mother’s womb.
Finally, the Feast of the Assumption also wants us to be realistic. It is not about an idealising of our coming state. The Assumption is not an escapism into an ideal world vs. the confines of our daily life. Mary's return from earth to Heaven embraces all aspects of our lives. It is a celebration of our daily toiling, the banalities of existence. Not simply that our coming 'assumption' will sanctify it. Today's feast is the celebration of the value of the present moment, that of our present day. For they ground our coming life. They create opportunities to get closer to God. Every single day is part of our soul's ascension. Let us celebrate this mystery today with the Mother of God.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..