Feast Of The Assumption
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: August 15, 2021
Do Catholics worship Mary? There are some fundamentalist Christians who will accuse us of worshipping Mary. But, any good Catholic knows that we do not worship Mary. We do honour and show devotion to Mary. As the mother of Jesus, she was an instrument of God’s grace, a model to each of us in living as disciples of Jesus and living with a heart fully open to the Holy Spirit. Already in the early New Testament time of the church, we see that the Christians offered devotion to Mary.
In Luke’s Gospel we just heard the great prayer of Mary that we call the Magnificat. There is so much in this prayer that we discover about Mary, how she prayed, how she viewed life and humanity. In the Magnificat Mary says about herself, “… all generations will call me blessed.” Two thousand years later we continue to call Mary blessed, continue to honour her with special devotion and love.
All of the Dogmas and teachings about Mary teach us something about Jesus and about us as disciples of Jesus. For this reason it is helpful to reflect and meditate on the Dogmas of the Church about Mary. They shed light on the identity and mission of Jesus. They also shed light on the call and life of the disciples of Jesus.
Today on August 15, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption. This is one of the oldest Feasts of Mary. It was already a major Feast by the 5th Century. This Dogma of the Assumption reveals the mission of Jesus who leads us beyond death into eternal life. Through his death and resurrection Jesus is leading us into eternal glory in the heart of God. The Assumption shows us the transition from this earthly life to the glory of heaven. Jesus is the Saviour who leads the way, and Mary, the mother of Jesus already shares in the glory of heaven through her Son. This teaches us about our destiny, where we are going.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we heard in our second reading today, Paul says, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Death is something frightening, an enemy to us human beings. Deep inside us is a hunger for eternity, longing that our loves in this life will not come to an end. We feel it painfully within when a loved one dies. Jesus came to destroy death, in his death and resurrection, he has opened up the path to eternal life. God’s plan is not for our destruction. In the Catholic funeral prayers we express clearly that “death is not the end.”
As we age we begin to reflect on death and how we prepare for our death. One of the keys that I have seen in people is the need for forgiveness. We need to forgive those who have hurt us, we need to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes, we need to forgive life for having been unfair, we even need to forgive God sometimes. Disciples of Jesus should not die bitter and angry. Mary did not die bitter and angry. She died in peace and light. United in such a deep and intimate way with her Son, she followed into the glory of heaven.
We Catholics do not worship Mary, but we continue to call her blessed and show her devotion and love. We reflect and meditate on the Dogmas about Mary because they reveal important truths about Jesus and about us as disciples of Jesus. The Dogma of the Assumption offers a beautiful vision of our destiny. That death is not the end and that this life leads to the glory of heaven.
Like Mary we need to prepare for our death by being united to Jesus. One of the keys to this is the need for forgiveness in all areas of our life. We are like Mary and faithful to the Feast of the Assumption when we prepare for our death so that we are able to die without being bitter or angry.