In celebrating the solemnity of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded that Mary is raised up by God’s power, body and soul, and lifted up into Heaven. Traditionally our Church has stated that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul.
This is not only a universal feast day, but it is also a local feast day because three of our churches are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Our Lady of Good Counsel, Deepdene; Our Lady’s Wattle Park and Our Lady of Victories, Camberwell. Due to the current situation, we are unable to gather to celebrate our feast day; however, it does not mean that we cannot turn to the patroness of our communities for assurance and hope during this difficult time.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see the encounter of two women: Mary and her cousin, Elizabeth. The baby in the womb of Elizabeth leapt for joy, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed the wonder of God who has done great things in her life and in the life of Mary. Mary responded with few humble words known to us as the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.”
This is the song of two pregnant women who carry the Proclaimer and the Saviour of the world: John the Baptist and Jesus. One of the most beautiful moments is that when pregnancy meets pregnancy – for sure many of our mothers can relate to this Gospel reading – when child-bearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings. All other religions begin with the teachings of adults, but Christianity begins with the birth of a child. From that very date to now, Christians have ever been the defenders of the family and of life, which has been handed on from generation to generation.
Mary, so Luke’s gospel tells us ‘went with all haste’; she is always in a hurry to do good. With deliberate speed, she becomes the first nurse of Christian civilization: a woman hastens to meet a woman. They serve best their neighbour who bear Christ within their hearts and souls.
The two women in today’s gospel are amazing. They have been through tough lives, not easy at all: Elizabeth carries the child at an old age. Mary carries a child with many criticisms from family and neighbours. They are great examples of the biblical belief that ‘nothing is impossible with God’. This is true especially of Mary who has been through so many difficulties, challenges and uncertainties since the first day of carrying the Son of the Living God in her womb. She never fails to believe in the promises of God.
Dear friends, celebrating the feast of Assumption this year is not easy for us at all. With the current lockdown and limitation of our movements, we can see ourselves in Mary who carried Christ in her womb more than 2,000 years ago. We are now carrying Christ in our hearts and in our minds hoping that ‘nothing is impossible for God’, and that our current situation will be overcome as quick as possible.
Let us turn ourselves towards the mercy of God to whom we entrust our lives each day. As we move into the unknown, our journey will be made radiant by his presence.
Fr Trac Nguyen
Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary available from 7.00 am on Saturday, 15 August