Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Assumption of Mary: A Sign of Hope for Us

Rev. Fr. Kyle L. Doustou                                                             Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15, 2014

For today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven as the beginning and image of your Church’s coming to perfection and as a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people; rightly you would not allow her to see the corruption of the tomb since from her body she marvelously brought forth your incarnate Son, the Author of all life.

These hauntingly beautiful words, taken from the Preface for today and which will be sung in an ode of joy to God the Father in just a few moments, perfectly encapsulate why it is that we are here this evening. Summer is quickly coming to a close…there is still much fun to be had and vacationing to do. But this evening we pause …we break from our activities and, filled with wonder and awe, we commemorate this wondrous feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This evening we meditate upon the great mystery of her glorious assumption into heaven, wherein we consider that the handmaiden of Nazareth, the woman who gave to our Savior His flesh, has been raised by God, both body and soul, into the glories of heaven.

Two-thousand years ago a little girl was asked a question that would change the world forever. Hardly older than thirteen years-old, she was asked if she would forgo her own plans, her own dreams, her own hopes and desires, to become a mother. Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, awaited her response on behalf of all creation…he awaited her response on behalf of a God so madly, so desperately in love with fallen humanity. Time and eternity froze as she contemplated what was being asked of her. The fear that must have rushed through her soul…the apprehension…the anxiety…the uncertainty. The very price and weight of our salvation was placed upon her shoulders in that moment. If she said yes, all of creation would be set free and live…but at what personal cost to her? What if she endured humiliation or even worse for conceiving a child out of wedlock? What if Joseph, her betrothed, would fail to understand and would leave her? What of the life she hoped to build for herself? For us, these questions and uncertainties would surely have propelled us into a state of indecision…we’d have to call our friends and family, we’d have to weigh the pros and cons…it would take time, a lot of time, for us to make our choice. But not for her. After only a pause, after an eternal consideration that lasted in time for but a moment, her pure and holy heart swelled with an incomparable love for God and her soul sang forth a resounding yes. And the age of our salvation began. God tore open His Heavens, and in an instant made His dwelling in the womb of this young maiden. She handed her body over to Him…a creature of flesh and blood gave to the invisible God the means by which He would be made visible to the world. She gave to Him the very flesh and blood that would cure the sick, feed the hungry, and raise the dead…she gave to Him the very flesh and blood that would suffer and die for our sake…she gave to Him the very flesh and blood that would be raised on the third day. Because of her yes, God could become one of us, like us in all things but sin…He could take on our human nature…the very nature he received from her…He could redeem, save it, and raise it up in glory.

Is it any wonder, then, considering that He received His flesh, His human nature, from the maiden of Nazareth, that He would raise her up…in the flesh…into the glories of His heavenly kingdom when her earthly life was complete? Is it any wonder that He would preserve her from the sting of death and corruption, she who He first preserved from all stain of sin? In an act of great love for His Mother, the God of Heaven and Earth, the God Who is now and will forever be both God and Man, raised up her earthly body, glorified it, and crowned her the Queen of Heaven.

The great mystery of Mary’s assumption into heaven is not merely something for us to consider, to meditate upon, and to think about; it’s a sign of hope for us…a sign of things to come. If we can mirror Mary’s faithfulness…if we can respond, as she did, with a resounding yes to our Lord’s invitation of love…if we persevere in steadfast faith, great hope, and lasting charity …then on the last day, when the trumpet sounds, He will raise up our earthly bodies from the grave and glorify them. He will crown us and make us everlasting heirs of His kingdom.

And so, let us go to Mary…let us go to her and ask her to lead us to her Son. She, more than anyone else in creation, knows what it means to love, know, and serve Him. Let us ask her to teach us to be humble, to be pure, and to be holy. Let us ask her to show us how to give of ourselves so completely, without counting the cost…let us ask her to strengthen us in our resolve to courageously to fight the good fight. Never has she refused those who come to her…she didn’t refuse the Angel Gabriel and she’ll never refuse us. Inspired by this confidence, we ask her to embrace us in the mantle of her Motherly love and to present us to her Son as we cry out: Glorious things are said of you, O Mary, who today were exalted above the choirs of Angels into eternal triumph with Christ.

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