Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. August 15th 2015.
Rev 11:19; 12:1-6; 1 Cor 15:20-27; Lk 1:39-56
Hastening to Jesus with Mary
Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith, stating that, having completed the course of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. We know by faith that the glorification of the body of the elect will take place at the final resurrection on the last day. Why then was it fitting for God to grant Mary the singular glorification of her body without delay at the moment that she had completed the course of her earthly life?
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, from the side of divine initiative, this immediate glorification is due to the fact that Mary is the Mother of God as well as the Immaculate Conception. As the Mother of God, Mary belongs to God in a way that no human creature has ever or will ever belong to God. St. Paul reminds us that, based on our degree of belonging to Jesus, there is a “proper order” in which those who belong to Him are raised, “Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming, those who belong to Christ.” Being the Immaculate Conception and the one “full of grace,” Mary’s soul, unlike the souls of all the elect, by the merits of Christ, was preserved from spiritual death while ours were delivered from spiritual death. This gave her a singularly unique participation in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
Secondly, on the side of human correspondence to divine action, Mary’s assumption was fitting because she did not hesitate to belong to God and His holy will completely and forever. Her consecration to God and His mission was both total and perpetual. At the Annunciation, when invited to be the Mother of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, once she realized what God was expecting of her, she did not hesitate to respond, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord, be it be done to me according to your word.” Today’s Gospel passage shows her “going in haste” to further the mission of the Redeemer and glorify God by serving her relative Elizabeth. She keeps nothing and no one for herself. Even the praise of Elizabeth is offered back to God, “He who is mighty has done great things for me.” The book of Revelation gives an image of Mary who is faithful to her mission even in the face of threatening forces of darkness, “The dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth. She gave birth to a son.” She also did not delay in following Jesus to the Cross and in being mother of the infant Church.
Thus, Jesus did not assume Mary into heaven just based on the unique things that He did in her life. But God did not delay in assuming His mother body and soul into heaven because she herself did not delay in belonging to God and His holy will without reserve. As His disciples, Jesus invites us together with St. John the Apostle to take Mary as our mother, “Son, behold your mother,” because we too will need her help in belonging totally to Jesus and His mission. Mary is all about belonging to God such that authentic devotion to Mary always leads us to fully offer to God all that we have and all that we are and to do so promptly, totally, without fear or anxiety and to do so forever.
I thank God for the grace to have experienced the power of Mary to bring us to this total consecration to Christ and to remain true to it. It was the beginning of the year 1997 and I was on an intense job hunt in the city of Port Harcourt in Nigeria and my search was looking pretty hopeless. I would end each day of job seeking in the local parish for evening Mass, Rosary and Eucharistic adoration. And then I came across a bulletin on the parish notice board with the message, “33 days of preparation for Total Consecration to Mary in the spirit of St. Louis De Montfort.” I thought to myself, “What the heck? I am jobless, right? I have nothing to lose and what better way to spend my time? Besides, I could use some renewal in my relationship to Mary and her Son Jesus Christ.” So I signed up and made my total consecration to Mary on May 31st 1997. Little did I know how this commitment would shape my future.
Fast forward seven years and a few months later. It is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in August 15th 2004. What am I doing? I am making my first profession of religious vows as an Oblate of the Virgin Mary in Boston, Massachusetts. What happened in those seven years? How did I find myself at this point in my life making such a commitment? I could not explain but I knew that being totally consecrated to Mary had a major part to play in my vocation. I learned from that experience that Mother Mary is indeed all about leading all her children to total consecration to her Son Jesus Christ without any hesitation.
We must realize that we cannot do great things for God until we completely belong to Him. Properly speaking, all consecration is to God and it is done by God who alone can make us His own and grant us a participation in His divine nature. Jesus hastened to us on a mission of consecration, “I consecrate myself for them, so that they may be consecrated in truth.”(Jn 17:19) Everything that Jesus said and did was to offer Himself totally to the Father for our sake. So God chose to consecrate us to Himself through the gift of His Son and the faith consent of the Virgin of Nazareth. We are His own now and He too longs to bring us to His eternal glory at the end of time. But if we must make haste to belong to Him completely and to remain His forever, we too must be willing to give ourselves unconditionally and without limits to the Virgin Mary as Christ did. Jesus’ gift of self to us through Mary makes it possible and fitting for us to make an offering of ourselves to Him through Mary too.
Is it not true that we hold back in making an offering of ourselves back to God? Can we honestly say that we belong to God as perfectly as we should during this lifetime? Our lack of faith hinders us from entrusting ourselves to God completely. We may find the cost of discipleship too high to pay that we begin to negotiate our response to Him. Self-doubt creeps in and causes us to hesitate in our service of God. In our pride, we always have that lingering self-seeking in the things that we do for God. We consciously or unconsciously look for something else apart from God in return as we serve the Lord. Even after we make a commitment to Jesus, we make easy but deadly compromises with the devil, the flesh and the world. Is this the consecration that Jesus expects from us? Why wouldn’t we want to share in Mary’s own total consecration to God?
Jesus Christ, the truly consecrated one, entrusted Himself to Mary as her infant, obeyed her as a teenager, and so doing He fulfilled His mission and did great things for God and for us. Let us make a total consecration of ourselves to Mary in two concrete ways. First, we entrust all that we have and all that we are into her hands. We offer her our soul with all its powers and faculties i.e. our affections, memory, intellect, will and freedom. Let us offer her our bodies with all its senses, our hearts with all its affections, our material possessions present and future, our spiritual goods of merits, virtues, and good works. Secondly, we depend on her with filial confidence for all our temporal and spiritual needs.
Mary is all about total consecration to God. She keeps nothing or no one for herself. She did not fail Jesus Christ on His mission of consecration and she will not fail us. If only we will humble ourselves and embrace this total consecration to Mary, we will belong radically to God and He will do great things in us and through us. At the end of time, we too will share in our Mother’s glory because we have hastened with her to Jesus.
Glory to Jesus who calls us to His glory!!! Honor to Mary who leads us to Him with haste!!!