The Assumption’s role in the world today

Today (Friday) we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Mother body and soul into Heaven. Given the immense cruelty on display on earth at this moment, one can understand how anyone would want to leave this world. However, Mary’s Assumption is not a fleeing of the world by Mary; instead she shows us what great dignity God has given to us human beings — in our souls and in our bodies. Mary’s Assumption demonstrates God’s desire to be with us, united in love forever with Him. Post-Assumption Mary is even more present throughout the world to accompany the children that she adopted on Good Friday, 33 A.D.

Mary is on the mountaintop over in Iraq, suffering with the Christians and other people who are being hunted down for not converting to extreme form of Islam. Mary is in West Africa, accompanying those suffering from Ebola and those gripped in the fear of contracting the disease. Mary is in East Asia, accompanying Christians suffering for their faith under communism (even accompanying those Christians who do not recognize her role in their lives. She still loves them as a mother and is with them in prison). Mary is in Latin America, walking as La Morenita (the little dark one, which is how her physical body appeared when she came to Guadalupe in 1531) with her brothers and sisters, frightened by gangs (who make the violence of the 1980s civil wars look bearable in comparison). Mary is with every mother on earth, encouraging them, helping them through the difficult and painful times, teaching them how to love, to forgive and to be forgiven. Mary is with us all — she did not leave us, rather she is even more available than when she lived her earthy life. She is always offering us her greatest gift — Her Son.

Mary went to Heaven when God called her — neither a day earlier nor a day later than when He planned. If God had wanted her to walk this earth until the end of the world, she would have done that. If God had wanted her to die earlier, even before Good Friday, she would have accepted it. Mary walks the halls of our hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes, guiding those who are open to Her Son’s teaching as to what appropriate medical means should be used with each patient, always remembering their dignity as sons and daughters of God.

Last year, on the feast of the Assumption, Pope Francis made reference to the first reading from the day’s Mass (Rev 11:19a, 12:1-6a). “The passage from Revelation presents the vision of the struggle between the woman and the dragon. The figure of the woman, representing the Church, is, on the one hand, glorious and triumphant and yet, on the other, still in travail. And the Church is like that: if in Heaven she is already associated in some way with the glory of her Lord, in history she continually lives through the trials and challenges which the conflict between God and the evil one, the perennial enemy, brings. And in the struggle which the disciples must confront — all of us, all the disciples of Jesus, we must face this struggle — Mary does not leave them alone: the Mother of Christ and of the Church is always with us. She walks with us always, she is with us. And in a way, Mary shares this dual condition. She has of course already entered, once and for all, into Heavenly glory. But this does not mean that she is distant or detached from us; rather Mary accompanies us, struggles with us, sustains Christians in their fight against the forces of evil. Well, prayer with Mary, especially the Rosary, has this ‘suffering’ dimension, that is of struggle, a sustaining prayer in the battle against the evil one and his accomplices. The Rosary also sustains us in the battle.”

The Assumption of Mary offers us all hope — especially to our fellow Christians suffering in these days. Pope Francis said, “Hope is the virtue of those who, experiencing conflict — the struggle between life and death, good and evil — believe in the resurrection of Christ, in the victory of love. We heard the Song of Mary, the Magnificat: it is the song of hope, it is the song of the People of God walking through history. This song is particularly strong in places where the Body of Christ is suffering the Passion. For us Christians, wherever the cross is, there is hope, always. If there is no hope, we are not Christian. That is why I like to say: do not allow yourselves to be robbed of hope. This strength is a grace, a gift from God which carries us forward with our eyes fixed on Heaven. And Mary is always there, near those communities, our brothers and sisters, she accompanies them, suffers with them, and sings the Magnificat of hope with them.” As we pray the Magnificat this weekend, may we remember we do it together with these brothers and sisters — let us pray for their safety, their comfort and their faith. 

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