Mary our Mother, her humility and her Assumption into Heaven

Homily for August 15th - The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven

by Fr. Tommy Lane

If a small child hurts his finger he runs to Mammy crying. All Mammy has to do is to kiss the finger and it is well again. Children know their mother loves them and has made a great many sacrifices for them.

In the same way we look on Mary as our heavenly mother. She is the mother of us all. We look on her as our mother who loves us a great deal, who watches over us to protect us. She is the mother to whom we can tell every joy and every sorrow. We remember Jesus’ words as he was dying on the cross; he said to Mary, ‘Woman behold your son’, and to John he said, ‘Son, behold your mother’ (John 19:26-27). We have always regarded this little incident as being symbolic for us: as Jesus was dying on the cross gave us his mother to be our mother also.

One example of someone who looked on Mary as a mother is St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Thérèse lost her mother before she reached ten years of age. Then she was fighting for her life during a grave illness and was miraculously cured through the intercession of Mary. Thérèse looked on herself as nestling in the arms of Mary. The child Jesus found protection in the arms of Mary and so also did Thérèse. The reason for our great joy today as we celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven is because we are celebrating a great privilege given to our heavenly mother.

There is in all of us the tendency or temptation to ‘play God’ sometimes. We will not allow God to have control over our lives. We don’t surrender our lives to God. Sometimes we stand before God as if we are little gods. We hold out our hands to God full of ourselves so God cannot give himself to us because God can only give himself to us if our hands are empty. Our life is meant to be giving more and more of ourselves to God. We are complex people and we give God only part of our lives, the part that suits us. But to meet God in heaven we will have to surrender ourselves fully to God firstly, to let God be God in our lives and accept that we are only human.

Mary’s greatness lies in the fact that she was humble before God and surrendered herself to God. Her words to the angel at the annunciation are words that we need to meditate on a great deal, ‘Let it be done to me according to your word.’ (Luke 1:38) Surrendering of herself to God did not mean a perpetual spiritual honeymoon but a giving of herself more and more to God as time went on. We can see evidence for this in the Gospels: at the presentation of Jesus in the temple, Simeon told her that her soul would be pierced with sorrow; when Jesus was twelve years old the family had a misunderstanding over why Jesus got lost for three days. Mary once again learned more about surrendering to God as Jesus told her that he had to be about his Father’s business.

Because she surrendered herself so much to God, God filled her with his presence just as God fills us when we surrender ourselves to God. Mary’s sinlessness and being ‘full of grace’ led naturally to her assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of her life. (See Rom 6:23) The Church has believed in Mary’s Assumption for centuries, although it was only proclaimed a dogma in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.

A way for us to surrender ourselves to God and be filled with the presence of God like Mary is to pray the Rosary daily. It is a most beautiful prayer, a prayer that can bring us closer to God and keep us closer to God. When we pray the Rosary we are not just saying prayers. Saying the prayers is to calm us down so that we can tune in to God and our blessed Mother. While we say the prayers our minds are meditating on the fifteen great events in the life of Jesus. When we are in desperation and we don’t know how to pray, it is a good prayer and is a most beautiful way to keep in contact with our heavenly mother. When we do so we can unite ourselves with Mary in expressing her sentiments:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.” (Luke 1:46-48)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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