The National Catholic Review
Assumption, August 15, 2001
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord (Lk. 1:46)

Difficulty in reflecting or preaching on the Assumption has always been the absence of any biblical account that the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven (Pius XII, Nov. 1, 1950). The dogma arose from centuries of reflection on the relation of Mary to the total Christ event. The readings today capture this connection. Paul looks to the transformation of all in Christ and to the resurrection of their bodies. Today’s feast says that Mary now lives with that transformation that is our hope.

The Gospel is especially powerful in the passage where Mary herself heralds with joy the God of reversals, who exalts a lowly servant, whom all generations will now call blessed. She sings of God’s mercy to the weak, casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly. Mary’s assumption is her ultimate lifting up, as will be our resurrection. In Luke, Mary is the one who hears God’s word, acts upon it and brings forth Christ to the world. From her body is formed the incarnate Son of God, a symbol that the body of every Christian is the bearer of God’s presence. The themes for this feast are rich: a woman raised to the presence of God; a humble servant who is the agent of God’s reversals; a model for us in our journey from responding let it be done to ultimate transformation when the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:27).

John R. Donahue, S.J., is the Raymond E. Brown Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, Md.

Readings: 
Readings: Rev. 11:19; 12:1-6, 10; Ps. 45; 1 Cor. 15:20-27; Lk. 1:39-56
Prayer: 

• Reflect with Qoheleth on the “vanities” that can take over our lives.

 

• Ask Christ to help you find the true treasures of your heart.

• Read prayerfully Mary’s Magnificat, pausing with prayers of gratitude and petition to Mary.