Feast of the Assumption Revelation 11:19 & 12:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15: 45-51; Luke 1: 39-56
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of all who have fallen asleep. Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ; but all of them in their proper order.”
These words of St Paul, taken from the second reading for the Feast of the Assumption, are a triumphant summons to the hope that we celebrate on Mary’s feast day. He enables us to understand Mary’s assumption into heaven as the first-fruit of Christ’s Resurrection and glorious return to the Father. We are all held in the same promise, that we, like Mary herself, shall one day share in the fullness of Christ’s return to the Father.
In the meantime, we are pilgrims on a journey already begun in Christ, but as yet to reach its conclusion in the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Feast’s first reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to this interval. Here we are presented with the vision of a woman in labour, about to give birth, threatened by a dragon.
“The dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born of its mother.”
We, like those addressed in the Book of Revelation, live a faith that is frequently challenged. Like the woman in the vision, we have experienced within ourselves the stirrings of Christ’s presence. We have also experienced all that threatens that inner presence: our own sinful frailty, together with the hostility of an unbelieving world. Covid 19 has brought an added dimension to hidden fears.
The vision concludes with a hope that reaches beyond every uncertainty. A Son was born into a troubled world, and the woman escaped to safety. A mighty voice was heard.
“Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ.”
Mary took to herself this cry of victory in her hymn of thanksgiving.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit exults in God my saviour. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the almighty had done great things for me.”
The faith that Mary proclaimed before the birth of her Son, endured throughout her life. It stood silent at the foot of the Cross, rejoiced at the Resurrection of her son, and was concluded in her Assumption into heaven. With her Son, she leads us along the same path.