In England and Wales this year, Sunday 14th August will be kept as the Solemnity of the Assumption, (in other years it is kept on 15th August).
The Gospel of the Mass of the Day is the Gospel of the Visitation. In her Magnificat, where Mary sings of the lowly being exalted, she not only looks back to God’s constant service of the poor and weak, but her own particular experience of being raised to a new dignity in the Mystery of the Incarnation, and the experience that is still to come in the Assumption.
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
Mary’s experience is unique to her, but she is also representative of us, and the dignity that is hers is also shared with us in some way.
Her mission as Mother of God is shared with us through our incorporation into Christ, as members of his Body, and so as she is his mother in one way she is ours in another.
She is first of the disciples and as she accompanied and guided the earliest disciples so she guides and accompanies us.
And in her assumption her participation in the glorification of her Son, anticipated and prefigures our sharing too in his resurrection.
- What aspects of Mary’s life and ministry have most touched your life?
- Bring your thoughts to God in prayer and thanksgiving.
The Visitation. Image from the Rosary Way, Aylesford. (c) 2008, Allen Morris