God is with us … the Assumption helps us believe that YOU are loved
To some people, today’s Feast is rubbish. Even some Catholics struggle to accept it. Where is the evidence to support the amazing paintings/ pictures of the Assumption?
This seems to be a bigger challenge as we learn more and more about science and logic, thinking we are very clever and rational. It’s good to remember what Jesus said: “I bless you Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth for revealing these things to mere children.”
Today’s Feast only requires a good imagination to move the power of the Assumption from our hearts up to our minds. And children have the best imaginations.
Most of us want God to speak plainly to us and spell it out. However, the Bible is full of images, with occasional explicit instructions. We’re forced to draw God’s meaning out of them ourselves: guided by the Church: there’s no elevator to Heaven, only stairs!
Images allow God to speak to all people, through all generations, for all time. Images capture known objects and events, and presents them in surprising ways, so that we can rise above the normal-natural to encounter the super-natural, which science does not yet know how to understand. How else can God communicate with us?
The First Reading is full of “crazy” ideas that would make a great paranormal or science-fiction film. In fact, our love for science-fiction is a sign of something deeper within us: the Divine that is beyond us which we can’t explain using normal language.
We need to turn off our logical minds and just imagine we are watching it happen: the vulnerable lady and new-born child are rescued from the powerful, greedy dragon. Good triumphs over evil. God is good… all the time.
Secondly, imagine the womb of Mother Mary opened for all to see the Child Jesus: “The Sanctuary of God in Heaven opened & the Ark of the Covenant could be seen inside it.” It reveals how closely God & humanity are: how close God is to YOU, not just Mary.
The Responsorial Psalm brings another image to mind: the Royal Court where power and comfort are available: How does one get a message to President Uhuru? We talk to his mother, Mama Ngina. Mary provides allows us to communicate “safely” with God.
The 2nd Reading may not be so obvious, but it presents the image of Mary, following in order/priority, after Jesus Christ, entering into Heaven. The great possibility that WE can be with God is now shown to be true. Our mothers can be tough, but not deadly!
In the Old Testament, the possibility of entering Heaven was longed for but not always certain. Now, in the New Testament, we are assured – with Faith – that you and I can enter Heaven: remember the words of Jesus again, “Whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my mother and brother and sister.”
The great Assumption is a tribute to Mary, but an even greater celebration of our own invitation into Heaven: the possibility of eternal life with God is real.
The Gospel has several images to help unpack the First Reading:
(1) Mary going in haste to visit her cousin: Mary carries Jesus Christ, the Ark of Heaven to defeat the powers of evil, by turning a barren woman into a fertile one;
(2) Mary greeting Elizabeth: releases the power of God
to reach out and touch another person: John the Baptist;
(3) the apparent contradictions contained in Mary’s speech: revealing the welcome for all people, not just the rich and powerful:
a) the young girl has become a super-star: each of you is valuable;
b) the “poor” are more welcome than the rich; and
c) the powerful are equal to the ordinary person.
(4) Mary stayed with Elizabeth: Mary served her pregnant cousin as Jesus had served.
Here we see that the Assumption is not a moment of magic, but an event achieved through action: a life-time of action sharing Christ with others, leads us into Heaven: all of us can enter into Heaven by carrying Christ to others.
How do we carry Christ to others? It’s in the little things:
(1) stopping to listen to someone; (2) assisting people who are struggling.
(3) giving someone encouragement; (4) using our connections to intercede for others;
(5) visiting someone in difficult situations; (6) expressing gratitude for our blessings.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI