Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Assumption of Our Lady, Shaftesbury

We celebrate today the great feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Our Lady is often referred to as "our hope" and I want to point how the truth we see manifested in Our Lady’s Assumption indicates WHY Our Lady should give us hope
-and in each case to understand hope we need to understand is the opposite which is fear.

In Our Lady we see the defining example of how Our Lord deals with humanity, so what we see happen to her indicates how we can expect Our Lord will also treat us.
Now, the most simple truth we see in Our Lady's Assumption is the fact that God rewarded her for her goodness: she was not only conceived "full of grace" but she chose to continue, and each moment of her life, she chose to cooperate with that grace, to continue in grace, to continue free from sin.
And because she never allowed the corruption of sin to touch her soul, it was fitting that corruption should similarly not touch her body in death.
When we acknowledge as Catholics that “at the end of her earthly life" she was assumed "body and soul" up into heaven, we are acknowledging that God rewarded her to her faithfulness to His graces, that God rewarded her for consistently cooperating with the graces He bestowed upon her.

So although it is possible to fear that God will not reward us to our own goodness, for our own faithfulness in the midst of difficulty, for our own persevering in virtuous acts even when it is difficult to be patient, difficult to be loving, difficult to be what God calls us to be, what we see in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, what we see in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, gives us reason for us to have hope that our goodness will also be rewarded.

Particular aspects of this "rewarding" for goodness can also be traced in our three Scripture readings:
Our second reading (1 Cor 15:20-26) refers to the fact that Christ's resurrection from the dead made Him the "first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep" -the first fruits of a vast hoped-for harvest of the virtuous resurrected to eternal life. Our Lady’s Assumption gives her the place as the most VISIBLE one to have followed Christ in this resurrection -as is fitting for the one who most perfectly cooperated with His plan.
Our first reading (Apoc 12:1-6.10) referred to the "great sign” that appeared in heaven, the "woman" crowned with 12 stars. And again, this public displaying of her glory is fitting for her who sinlessly cooperated with His plan.
Lastly, our gospel text (Lk 1:39-56) included Our Lady’s great hymn the “Magnificat” –“my soul glorifies the Lord". And, in particular, she proclaimed the greatness of the Lord for the fact that He had exalted the lowly, He had lifted up her who had lowered herself in service to Him and to others. So, in as much as we fear that our lowliness just leads us to being trampled upon and ignored and taken advantage of by others, the Magnificat of Our Lady, and the Assumption of Our Lady, gives us hope.

I started by saying that Our Lady is stereotypically calls our "hope". On one hand she is our hope because we can turn to her powerful motherly intercession to rescue us in our difficulties. But my primary point to you today, is that she is our hope because in her life and Assumption we see that God is faithful to His goodness and that He rewards those who are faithful to Him. Thus none of us should despair even when being good seems tough: God gave her a grace, she cooperated with it, and she was rewarded. The Lord gives us, too, the graces we need, and if we cooperate with them we too will be rewarded.

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