Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Scriptural Readings: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56
My dear encountered couples:
“WHY ME”? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Or voice it to someone else? Why me? Why did this happen to me?
If and when we ever do say “Why me?” is it not usually in regard to something very unpleasant that has happened to us? Why is it that my car had to be the one to find the nail in the road? I’ve had my motel reservations for four months and when I get there, they can’t find my name in the computer. And why, after three weeks of dry, sunny, wonderful weather, did it have to pick my vacation week to rain? Why does the worse always happen to me?
Have you ever thought of saying “Why me?” when something really good happens to you? When the love of your life loves you back, when you get a raise in salary, when the bathing suit you bought five years ago still fits you perfectly, or when the cat goes outside to throw up instead of on your living room rug? “Why me? Why should such wonderful things happen to me? Why am I being treated so special?”
That is just what Mary is probably asking God today. “Why is it I am the one you have taken up into heaven body and soul with such great pomp and ceremony? Why am I here being treated like the queen of heaven and earth?”
Today we celebrate Mary’s assumption into heaven. She had been selected to be the mother of Jesus Christ; the Son of God become man. And because she placed herself entirely in the hands of God and at his service, she is now being rewarded for it. “He who is mighty,” has done, and is still doing, great things for Mary.
“Why me?” I can hear her asking. “Why was I picked from among so many others?”
Is Mary the only one who doesn’t really understand why? I strongly suspect she knows the answer; she gave it to her cousin Elizabeth when she said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked upon his lowly servant.” Another translation of Mary’s words that makes the meaning much clearer is this one, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my savior because he has regarded the humility of his handmaid.”
The answer to Mary’s question, “Why me?” is because she was so humble. The Jewish people had been praying for and talking about the Messiah for centuries.
You can be sure there were many young girls whose mothers had filled them with visions of their being chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. As we might have visions of becoming a celebrity, someone rich, famous, successful, and remembered in history books for all times, the young girls of Israel dreamed of their being the mother of the Promised One.
The young boys probably pictured themselves as being the Promised One. But Mary was the one chosen by God. Why? Because she never considered herself worthy of God’s notice, let alone getting selected as the one to bring the Messiah into the world.
“Blessed are you among women,” are the words Elizabeth greeted Mary with, “and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Even Elizabeth is asking, “Why me?”) And Mary responded, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked upon the lowliness of his servant. He who is mighty has done great things for me.”
Mary may still be asking “Why me?” but the answer is because of her humility. Others, if they had been picked, might very possibly have thought of themselves, “God couldn’t have made a better choice.” But Mary’s deep and genuine humility kept all traces of pride from gaining any access into her soul. Which was the exact opposite of the pride that entered Eve in the Garden of Eden. “You will become like God if you eat that fruit,” the devil told Eve. The idea pleased her. She wanted to raise herself to God’s level. So, she ate the fruit in spite of God’s disapproval.
Sounds like what the devil is always trying to do - take over God’s place. No such thoughts ever gained a toehold in Mary. Humble she was, humble she stayed, humble she shall always be. “God who is mighty has done great things for me. I earned none of them, I do not deserve any of the good fortune God showers on me.”
Humility is not something we all have, is it? Maybe none of us have anywhere near the purity and perfection we need to enter heaven. I suspect very strongly that not only are life and love and forgiveness and heaven gifts from God, so is the virtue of humility. No one can make himself or herself humble. It is not something we can buy or earn or even demand of God. Humility is a gift just like everything else that is good. Mary knows that, and that is exactly what keeps her humble.
Mary in saying she is lowly and humble is not bragging. She is not taking credit. She simply realizes that among the many good things God has given her, humility is one of them. God gave Mary her humility. God made Mary humble so she could be the worthiest Mother of his Son. God formed Mary’s soul and body as is fittingly necessary for a woman to be the home for his Son until born, and the best mother for raising him. And Mary knows all this.
When you say, “Hail Mary, blessed are you among women,” Mary says, “I am so, because God has made me so. All I am, everything I have, is because of what God has done for me. I am holy because God has made me holy. Do not worship me for the greatness that I possess, worship him who has given it all to me.”
Mary is the greatest of all women because God has made her so. And she would be the first to want you to know that. But here is something God wants you to know. Mary is not a robot. She was not deprived of free will any more than Eve or Adam or you. Mary was free to choose and do as she wish. God did not force her to accept his offer of motherhood, he left her free to choose.
However, we can greatly expect he encouraged her with his graces. We may not be able to understand all this as we might wish, few divine things are clear to us, but Mary was not deprived of her free will. She freely chose to be the “handmaid of the Lord.”
Let us honor Mary today, let us be happy for her. And let us be sure we ask her every day to help us grow in our love for her Son.