Sunday Readings: Revelation 11.19a,12.1-6;, 10 1 Corinthians 15.20-26; Luke 1.39-56
“My being magnifies the greatness of God. My spirit finds joy in God, my Savior. For God has looked upon me in my lowliness, on me, God’s servant. Now all ages shall call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is God’s name. Strong is God’s arm, for God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” – Luke 1.47-49, 51-53
Artists find having Mary, or Jesus in his ascension, rise through glorious clouds quite irresistible. But now that planes, space stations, and giant telescopes have tamed the skies, we envision heaven not so much in the clouds but as communion in God, a lasting relationship. At death we step into mystery, into faith and promise.
The gospels have no account of Mary’s assumption. On this feast we remember Mary’s visit to her kinswoman Elizabeth, two pregnant and prophetic women who trust God’s promises. The Spirit fills Elizabeth with an ecstatic testimony that Mary is three times blessed: blessed are you among women, blessed is the child in your womb, and blessed is she who trusts God’s words will be fulfilled. We reflect on Mary’s prayer magnifying God’s greatness, a song of justice and liberation.
Mary was a young teen when Herod the Great died and peasants in Galilee revolted and attacked the city of Sephoris, a tax-collection center, four miles from Nazareth. Roman soldiers put down the attack and rampaged through the villages of Galilee doing violence. Mary lived through headlines like ours today. Her song announces God’s intent to transform history for the poor. It testifies that God extends mercy from age to age and keeps faith with the poor and hungry.
Mary is not only an individual woman who trusts all the Spirit conceives in her and then gives birth to Jesus, but also a woman who represents her people. She comes from among their poor. Israel’s religious traditions nourish her openness to God’s dwelling in her. Like the whole people, Mary is God’s dwelling place. She bears God into the world in giving birth to Jesus. Mary gathers with the first believers on Pentecost when the Spirit sets their tongues afire with the good news in every language and gives birth to the Church.
What does Mary show us about who we Christians are? Who is Mary to you?