Monday, August 16, 2010

The Feast of the Assumption - homily

Sometime ago, I went to dinner with a couple that I’ve been friends with for a long time. After dinner, they invited me to pray the rosary with their four kids who ranged in age from three to about eleven or twelve. It’s always uplifting to pray with families, especially the rosary. This one was definitely unique; each of their kids prayed a decade of the rosary, including the three year old boy. When his turn came, it was a trip! Like his siblings, he was very serious and focused. But, he only knew about every fifth word of the Hail Mary: “Hail Mer, fulla gray, Lor wid thee, bless whim, bless fwoo… Jesus”. I was trying so hard not to laugh. It was quite the scene – the priest trying not to laugh hysterically as the other kids and their parents all were praying efficaciously: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…” It was a trip!

I started praying the rosary in the early nineties after hearing a tape from Fatima. Mary said to the three kids at Fatima (and to all of us), “pray the rosary every day for the salvation of sinners”. I took this as a directive and have been praying the rosary every day since then. It has changed my life! I look at it in the language of Scripture: this was the day that I “took Mary into my home”. I truly believe that my devotion to Mary has been one of the most significant reasons I am a priest. She is a powerful intercessor!

If you know the scene of John and Mary at the foot of the Cross. Jesus gives Mary to John (who represents the Church): “behold your mother”. Scripture then says, “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:27). This changed John’s life. Of course, Christ is his life, but to have His Mother with him every day must have been amazing. He was able to get tremendous insights from her incredible wisdom of being the Mother of God. And, it must have been so powerful to be in the presence of her incredible faith, virtue, and motherly care.

In today’s Gospel, Mary enters the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Right away, we see her power. It’s really the power of God through her. Elizabeth is crying with joy and John, of course, leaps in his mother’s womb. This is a life-changing experience for all, and Elizabeth makes that clear. The Mother of her Savior is in her home and carrying the Lord in her womb! It is a powerful encounter with the Grace of God through Mary. This is how we as Catholics approach the Blessed Mother: we go to Jesus through Mary. We do not worship her; we worship God alone. But, we go to Him through her as He came to us through her. And, when we do, it is powerful!

We can look at three things that shows us the power of God through Mary. The first is today’s feast of the Assumption. Mary is taken up body and soul into Heaven…take up into glory. This imitates her son who ascended into Heaven…into glory. The second is the Devil. The Devil hates Mary. We see this throughout Scripture. In the first book of the Bible (Genesis), enmity is declared between her and Satan (represented as a serpent). Then, in the last book of the Bible (Revelation) which we just heard in the first reading, Satan (represented by a dragon) chases after Mary and her son. Satan hates her because she brings salvation into the world. His contempt for her is similar to his hatred for the Eucharist which is our Salvation; there are many stories of evil forces desecrating the Eucharist. Satan knows the power of Mary and the Eucharist and wants to destroy both. The third thing that shows us Mary’s power is the saints. Two things that all of the saints have in common are a great devotion to the Eucharist and a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. These are both saint-makers and the Devil knows it. He knows that these devotions bring salvation to people; he wants no one to be saved.

Finally, a challenge and recommendation for all of you: bring Mary into your homes, if she is not there already. Pray the rosary as a family. The Church often says, “the family that prays together stays together”. As individuals, pray the rosary every day for the salvation of sinners. I know everyone is busy and many people complain to me that it’s hard to block out 15 minutes to pray the rosary. So, take two minutes and pray at least a decade of the rosary every day. Turn to the Mother of all Graces and bring Grace to the situation about which you are praying. Just as importantly, draw close to Mary. Pope Benedict has written that “precisely because Mary is with God and in God she is very close to us”. The rosary helps us to become close to Mary and to get to know her. Through it, we get to know her incredible faith, virtue, and motherly love. Through the Grace of the Eucharist, may each of us this week take Mary into our homes and, ultimately, enter into God’s home, His eternal Kingdom, forever.


William Newton said...

A great homily, Father, and even more so having had the privilege of hearing it delivered.

Liesl said...

I really enjoyed this homily! I especially like your impersonation of a child's voice (although all kids don't have lisps haha). I'm going to try praying the rosary more often, and work my way up to praying it everyday.