15 August. Assumption of Our Blessed Lady
Rev 12:1-10. The imagery of the woman and the dragon first referred to the early church under persecution and later was extended to include the Assumption.
1 Cor 15:20-26. Christ is “first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.” His Blessed Mother is already sharing in the final destiny of those who belong to Christ.
Lk 1:39-56. During her visit to Elizabeth, Mary recites the Magnificat.
Theme: Just as Jesus was raised to immortal life after his death on the cross, so his mother, the first among Christians, was raised body and soul into the glory of heaven.
It is this electronic age graphic imagery forms an ever-increasing portion of our daily diet. Advertising is a multi million-dollar industry. Pretty girls and athletes smile from every hoarding, from glossy magazines and from the TV screen. Physical beauty is highly marketable. The Vogue model is not born that way, she is assembled by those whose business is to market beauty, who make millions on cosmetics and fashion. Behind the modern cult of youth, too, one can detect this obsession with physical beauty.
For those who read the neon signs of the times, the message is clear. War is declared on ugliness. And on sin too. In response to an age when our Church seemed obsessed with sin and evil, when occasions of sin included every fleeting glimpse of female flesh and the convivial atmosphere of every local pub, many in our generation have reacted by ignoring or rejecting the very notion of sin itself. But sin will not go away by being simply dismissed as myth, or by denying its relevance.
If our world remains so obsessed by physical beauty and so dismissive of sin, it is condemned to futility. We need the saving grace of a Redeemer, not the bland inducements of the advertiser of the distortions of truth so often put forward in the weasel name of Public Relations. Real beauty is not a matter of the length of a nose or the shape of a mouth. It has to do with the quality of the person.
Two of the most beautiful people in the Church’s living memory were John XXIII and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Neither of them would have distinguished themselves in a beauty contest. Yet who would hesitate to call them beautiful people? But the most beautiful spirituality to grace this planet was that of Mary the mother of Jesus: “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” Sadly, she has often been badly served by her most devoted followers. They have given us so often a miraculous Madonna or plaster-cast virgin instead of the marvellously beautiful person she really was and is. Probably the finest compliment ever paid her came from the lips of an earthy old peasant woman who cried out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that gave you suck.”
Mary’s unique beauty is based not on physical endowments but on her total freedom from sin. It is a pity that people so often speak of innocence as a negative thing. It wasn’t what she didn’t do which made her sinless and beautiful but what she did. It was the marvellous harmony of her nature which made her totally sensitive, caring and other-oriented. Her first concern, on being told she was to be the mother of God, was for her older cousin, Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Christmas cards, depicting the flight into Egypt and the nativity, give no idea of the sturdy virtue of the teenage girl who delivered her child in such appalling conditions. Thirty years later, at the marriage of friends in Cana her sensitive and tactful concern for the newly-weds provoked Christ’s first miracle. The woman beside the cross on Calvary is an unforgettable model of love and fidelity. Mary was a beautiful person unscarred by sin. She was a woman for all seasons.
First Reading: Book of Revelation 12:1-6, 10
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah.
Second Reading: First Epistle to the Corinthians 15:20-25
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power; for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.