You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the reading from Luke 1:39-56.
During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Leapt in her womb, who am I, Blessed are you, lifted up
“In all the troubles of life, Mary’s power as the Mother of Christ is the most far-reaching.”
— Pope Leo XIII
I had EWTN on while I was writing this reflection, and the above quote, paraphrased as it is, just happened to flash across the screen. Perfect timing!
These days, the Catholic Church is often criticized as being discriminatory to women. One need only look at how we cherish Mary. No man will ever be raised to the heights of which she has been raised. Her veneration throughout history has surpassed that of all other saints, and is second only to God. As the Lady of the Immaculate Conception, she is patron saint of the United States.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus shows us how to accept Mary. At the wedding at Cana, she intercedes on the behalf of the wedding party when they run out of wine, but she also adds, “Do whatever He tells you.” As He hung on the cross, Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to St. John, but He also entrusted St. John and all of us to her motherly care. As the centuries unfold, Jesus continues to teach us that the easiest way to Him is through His Blessed Mother.
Nothing definite is known about the death of Mary. Whether or not she experienced death at all is even debated, but that she was assumed body and soul into Heaven seems to be the more important point. It is an old belief accepted by both the Eastern and Western Churches. Pope Pius XII dogmatically defined the Assumption in 1950, specifically referencing verses in Genesis and the First Letter to the Corinthians in his writings.
What does this all mean for us? It is the promise made to all of us if we follow Mary’s example. She followed God’s plan for her, despite any fear or uncertainty. We are taught that if we are faithful, our bodies will rise again on the Last Day, and we too will spend eternity with God and Mary, body and soul.
One more about the Church’s place for Mary: Our God, the Holy Trinity, is loved and exalted above all things and all people. Some of our Lord’s feasts may be transferred to the nearest Sunday, including that of His Ascension into Heaven. However, for His Blessed Mother, Her Solemnities as Mary, the Mother of God, of Her Assumption, and of the Immaculate Conception do not move. If her Assumption falls on Tuesday, then we better be at Mass on Tuesday!
~ Joseph Cook