Aug. 15, 2010 – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Blessed Virgin Mary, our bishops tell us, is not only the model Christian disciple but also the model Christian steward. As we celebrate her Assumption – which prefigures our own reception into heaven at the general resurrection on the Last Day – let us consider how she models the Christian life for us.
As Jesus was preaching one day, we read in Luke 11, a woman in the crowd, impressed by his powerful words, exclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” Of course, she was right – any woman who was the mother of the Son of God would be privileged indeed!
But Jesus, who always taught that earthly ties of blood are less important than our relationship with God the Father, replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” That was not a put-down of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a declaration that all who follow his teaching will also receive exaltation from God. He was expanding the circle of those blessed to include us as well.
More than 30 years before, when Jesus had just been conceived, St. Elizabeth had proclaimed to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” And what were her grounds for such a statement? “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Mary had heard the word of God; she had believed it; and she had observed in her willingness to obey. “May it be done to me according to your word,” she said to the angel (Luke 1:38), accepting the vocation God had prepared her for.
Her vocation shows us the pattern of a good steward. She offered her time to be with her divine Son at his birth, at his death, and at prayer with the Apostles after the Ascension. She gave her talent when she offered a mother’s care. And what earthly treasure she possessed was of secondary importance compared to her service for God. Her desire for material security was not enough to keep her from fleeing to Egypt to protect her Son or to stop her from coming to Jerusalem for his Crucifixion. Our own sacrifices seem minor compared to hers.
But we too, if we “hear the word of God and observe it,” will one day experience the magnitude of Paul’s exclamation, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”