Thursday, August 15, 2013

Homily: Assumption 2013

The Western Church up until Pope Pius XII defined the dogma in 1950 (and  the Eastern Church to this day) did something rather odd on the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. The Gospel for the Mass was the story of Mary and Martha.

William Durandus, the popular medieval commentator on the liturgy, acknowledged that this Gospel “at first sight appears to have no relevance” but goes on to explain the matter allegorically. Jesus enter the ‘little house’ of Mary and Martha, that is into the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is a sign of Our Lady’s humility. But according to Durandus Our Lady surpasses both Mary and Martha because her reception of Christ combines both the contemplative life and the active life. The mother of Jesus showed her goodness in diligently rearing him and in keeping “all these words in her heart”.

In any case the Church read this Gospel century after century  because we are always to remember that Mary’s eternal destiny is determined not only by her assent to be the mother of  Jesus but also by her assent to becoming his disciple. Whatever privileges of grace Mary had still like all of us she had to become a disciple of Jesus.

Indeed as St. Augustine said and Pope Pius quotes him in the dogmatic definition:  "Before conceiving the Lord in her body, Mary conceived him in her soul".

If like Martha, the Mother of Jesus welcomed him into her womb and into her house, so also she had to sit at the Lord’s feet and be taught by him.

This is the point of that somewhat shocking passage where Jesus is told that his mother and brothers are outside wanting to speak to him and he replies: "Here are my mother and my brothers!  "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Mary must follow Jesus and follow him she does and must take to heart what he teaches his disciples, even when the word of the Lord is uncomfortable and painful.

At the Wedding at Cana: "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come" and learn to say only “Do whatever he tells you”.

She must treasure this in her heart this also.

But above all she must stand at foot of the Cross and let the sword pierce also her own heart. She must take up her cross and follow him.

She must allow herself to be burned with the Pentecostal fire.

All of which is good news to us who are also his disciples. It means that today’s feast is not just the Mother of God’s feast but ours as well. Mary to be sure has a unique role in the salvation of the world, for which God uniquely equipped her and that we cannot reproduce. But we can and must be what she was a disciple, no more and no less. We can welcome Jesus into our hearts and souls, we can learn from him and we can follow him on the way that leads to the cross and beyond to the resurrection and everlasting life. No more and no less and enough.

No comments: