Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Victory in Motion

Reading: Revelations 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56

I must confess to having a rather static view of happy endings. The happily ever after of many a fairy-tale is my idea of a happy ending, but with an added twist. The lead character or hero, whoever he or she may be, walks or rides off into the horizon, and the scene freezes. The curtain closes. There is no more movement. The hero is happy – frozen – but happy.

Today, in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we celebrate the ultimate happy ending. Christ the Lord has won the victory over sin and death. And Mary – representing all of us – shares fully, body and soul, in this victory. Christ’s victory is Mary’s victory. And Mary’s victory is also our victory. What is it like? What do the readings tell us?

We might begin with the response to the psalm. On your right stands the Queen… Where is Mary? She remains, always at the right hand, in the presence, of Christ her Son and Lord. Is this not also the kind of happy ending to which we can aspire: to always be in the presence of Christ, our heart’s desire? But what is it like to be in Christ’s presence?

It may be possible to think of it in static terms, as I tend to do with fairy-tales: Mary standing, frozen, at Christ’s right hand. But that vision doesn’t help me very much as I continue to live and struggle in this life. There seems little connection between this static vision and the perpetual motion of daily living. The gospel presents us with a more helpful scene. Here, Mary is far from static. Quite to the contrary, Mary is in full flight. Carrying Jesus in her womb, Mary went as quickly as she could to the aid of Elizabeth. There is no room for the frozen here. What we find instead is a presence-to-Christ that remains in motion, a motion that saves. For Mary, to remain in Christ’s presence is, inevitably, to announce and accompany Him in his mission of universal salvation. And in the hill country of Judah, this probably meant, very concretely, helping Elizabeth with house-chores, working in the kitchen, fetching water, feeding the animals…

We cannot say for sure what the ultimate happy ending is like that awaits us in the heavens. But while we’re still here on earth, we learn much from Mary’s example. Hers is the life that led to the Assumption, the happy ending to which we are called. And from Mary we learn what it means to be present to Christ, to share in Christ’s victory: not just being preoccupied with our own individual – frozen – victories, but being present to Christ in ways that remain always in motion, even as Christ remains in motion, reaching out to save the world, one little corner at a time.

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