Saturday, August 14, 2010

Homily for the Assumption of Our Lady

From this day forward all generations will call me blessed (Luke 1:48)


There’s something about Mary

This was a film made many years ago. It had nothing to do with the Catholic faith, nor indeed with Our Lady, but it’s a great title. There is something about Mary. 

She is mentioned only on selected occasions in the Gospels, and we know very few of her words, yet she has dominated the art, the music and the faith of the world for centuries. She has sometimes been the centre of disputes amongst Christians, but she has also been at the heart of the inspiration and devotion of so many. Catholics and Orthodox unite in calling her Mother of God. Protestant Christians recognise her importance in the Christian story. Even the Koran devotes several chapters to her. 

There’s certainly something about her. 

This week some of us have been in Lourdes, the most famous shrine of Our Lady in the world, a place where she is said to have appeared to a young girl, Bernadette, just over 150 years ago. 

About six million people make a pilgrimage there every year. Why? 

There’s something about the place. Something about the Lady. 

And what is it? 

We could put it in theological terms, and say that she has a crucial role in the story of salvation, she is the closest human person to Our Lord himself in this life and the next, she most certainly dwells with God. That, in a nutshell, is more or less what is meant by the Assumption, which we celebrate today. 

But we could also put it in a more human, personal way. Mary is always about meeting, about encounter: look at the Gospels - the Annunciation, when she is greeted by the angel; the Visitation, when she greets her cousin Elisabeth; the Crucifixion, when Jesus greets her from the Cross; the day of Pentecost, then and after, when she prays with the Apostles ... and Lourdes and elsewhere, when she greets Bernadette and others. 

Mary is special because she meets us and we meet her - in special places and in our prayers. She is one of us, she is with us, and she dwells in the heart of her Son, as he dwells in her heart. 

Through her heaven came down to earth - and with her we share the life of heaven. 

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